AIM To determine adherence to clinical practice guidelines in the medical, physiotherapy and chiropractic professions for acute and subacute mechanical low back pain through best-evidence synthesis of the healthcare literature. METHODS A structured best-evidence synthesis of the relevant literature through a literature search of relevant databases for peer-reviewed papers on adherence to clinical practice guidelines from 1995 to 2013. Inclusion of papers was based on selection criteria and appraisal by two reviewers who independently applied a modified Downs & Black appraisal tool. The appraised papers were summarized in tabular form and analysed by the authors. RESULTS The literature search retrieved 23 potentially relevant papers that were evaluated for methodological quality, of which 11 studies met the inclusion criteria. The main finding was that no profession in the study consistently attained an overall high concordance rating. Of the three professions examined, 73% of chiropractors adhered to current clinical practice guidelines, followed by physiotherapists (62%) and then medical practitioners (52%). CONCLUSIONS This review showed that quality papers in this area of research are very limited. Notwithstanding, chiropractors appear to adhere to clinical practice guidelines more so than physiotherapists and medical practitioners, although there is scope for improvement across all three professions.