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Chiropractic Research Review

Manual Skinfold Tests Demonstrate Poor Reliability?

Changes in the mechanical properties of skin, often interpreted as an expression of autonomic imbalance, can influence the clinical decision-making process. Skin-lifting and skin-shearing tests are typical palpation techniques used by clinicians to assess these changes.

A study involving 24 subjects (12 examiners performing palpatory tests on 12 healthy volunteers) assessed the reliability of a manual skinfold thickness test and a manual skinfold compliance test performed at the 3rd, 6th, 9th and 12th thoracic vertebrae.

Results support findings from the literature documenting the lack of reliability of palpatory tests for skinfold thickness and skinfold compliance. However, despite the unsatisfactory reliability found in this study, it is premature to conclude that manual skinfold tests have no value in the physical examination process. Further investigations should examine potential factors influencing the execution and evaluation of these tests.

Rouwmaat PHM, Everaert D, Stappaerts KH, et al. Reliability of manual skinfold tests in a healthy male population. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, June 1998;21(5), pp327-32. Reprints: Tel: (800) 638-6423; Fax: (410) 528-8596

Chiropractic Research Review

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