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1.  Management of people with acute low-back pain: a survey of Australian chiropractors 
Chiropractors commonly provide care to people with acute low-back pain (LBP). The aim of this survey was to determine how chiropractors intend to support and manage people with acute LBP and if this management is in accordance with two recommendations from an Australian evidence-based acute LBP guideline. The two recommendations were directed at minimising the use of plain x-ray and encouraging the patient to stay active.
This is a cross sectional survey of chiropractors in Australia. This paper is part of the ALIGN study in which a targeted implementation strategy was developed to improve the management of acute LBP in a chiropractic setting. This implementation strategy was subsequently tested in a cluster randomised controlled trial. In this survey phase of the ALIGN study we approached a random sample of 880 chiropractors in three States of Australia. The mailed questionnaire consisted of five patient vignettes designed to represent people who would typically present to chiropractors with acute LBP. Four vignettes represented people who, according to the guideline, would not require a plain lumbar x-ray, and one vignette represented a person with a suspected vertebral fracture. Respondents were asked, for each vignette, to indicate which investigation(s) they would order, and which intervention(s) they would recommend or undertake.
Of the 880 chiropractors approached, 137 were deemed ineligible to participate, mostly because they were not currently practising, or mail was returned to sender. We received completed questionnaires from 274 chiropractors (response rate of 37%). Male chiropractors made up 66% of respondents, 75% practised in an urban location and their mean number of years in practice was 15. Across the four vignettes where an x-ray was not indicated 68% (95% Confidence Intervals (CI): 64%, 71%) of chiropractors responded that they would order or take an x-ray. In addition 51% (95%CI: 47%, 56%) indicated they would give advice to stay active when it was indicated. For the vignette where a fracture was suspected, 95% (95% CI: 91%, 97%) of chiropractors would order an x-ray.
The intention of chiropractors surveyed in this study shows low adherence to two recommendations from an evidence-based guideline for acute LBP. Quality of care for these patients could be improved through effective implementation of evidence-based guidelines. Further research to find cost-effective methods to increase implementation is warranted.
PMCID: PMC3265419  PMID: 22171632
2.  The Nordic Maintenance Care Program: when do chiropractors recommend secondary and tertiary preventive care for low back pain? 
Among chiropractors the use of long-term treatment is common, often referred to as "maintenance care". Although no generally accepted definition exists, the term has a self-explanatory meaning to chiropractic clinicians. In public health terms, maintenance care can be considered as both secondary and tertiary preventive care. The objective of this study was to explore what factors chiropractors consider before recommending maintenance care to patients with low back pain (LBP).
Structured focus group discussions with Swedish chiropractors were used to discuss pre-defined cases. A questionnaire was then designed on the basis of the information obtained. In the questionnaire, respondents were asked to grade the importance of several factors when considering recommending maintenance care to a patient. The grading was done on a straight line ranging from "Very important" to "Not at all important". All members of the Swedish Chiropractors' Association (SCA) were invited to participate in the discussions and in the questionnaire survey.
Thirty-six (22%) of SCA members participated in the group discussions and 129 (77%) returned the questionnaires. Ninety-eight percent of the questionnaire respondents claimed to believe that chiropractic care can prevent future relapses of back pain. According to the group discussions tertiary preventive care would be considered appropriate when a patient improves by 75% or more. According to the results of the questionnaire survey, two factors were considered as "very important" by more than 70% of the respondents in recommending secondary preventive care, namely frequency past year and frequency past 10 years of the low back pain problem. Eight other factors were considered "very important" by 50–69% of the respondents, namely duration (over the past year and of the present attack), treatment (effect and durability), lifestyle, work conditions, and psychosocial factors (including attitude).
The vast majority of our respondents believe that chiropractic treatment can prevent relapses of back pain. When recommending secondary preventive care, past frequency of the problem is considered. For tertiary preventive care, the patient needs to improve considerably before a recommendation of maintenance care is made.
PMCID: PMC2633010  PMID: 19161611
3.  The treatment experience of patients with low back pain during pregnancy and their chiropractors: a qualitative study 
Chiropractors regularly treat pregnant patients for low back pain during their pregnancy. An increasing amount of literature on this topic supports this form of treatment; however the experience of the pregnant patient with low back pain and their chiropractor has not yet been explored. The objective of this study is to explore the experience of chiropractic treatment for pregnant women with low back pain, and their chiropractors.
This qualitative study employed semi-structured interviews of pregnant patients in their second or third trimester, with low back pain during their pregnancy, and their treating chiropractors in separate interviews. Participants consisted of 11 patients and 12 chiropractors. The interviews consisted of 10 open-ended questions for patients, and eight open-ended questions for chiropractors, asking about their treatment experience or impressions of treating pregnant patients with LBP, respectively. All interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim, and reviewed independently by the investigators to develop codes, super-codes and themes. Thematic saturation was reached after the eleventh chiropractor and ninth patient interviews. All interviews were analyzed using the qualitative analysis software N-Vivo 9.
Five themes emerged out of the chiropractor and patient interviews. The themes consisted of Treatment and Effectiveness; Chiropractor-Patient Communication; Pregnant Patient Presentation and the Chiropractic Approach to Pregnancy Care; Safety Considerations; and Self-Care.
Chiropractors approach pregnant patients with low back pain from a patient-centered standpoint, and the pregnant patients interviewed in this study who sought chiropractic care appeared to find this approach helpful for managing their back pain symptoms.
PMCID: PMC3502160  PMID: 23046615
Pregnancy; Chiropractic; Qualitative; Exercise; Spinal manipulative therapy; Nutrition; Adverse effects
4.  Anesthesiologists’ and surgeons’ perceptions about routine pre-operative testing in low-risk patients: application of the Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF) to identify factors that influence physicians’ decisions to order pre-operative tests 
Routine pre-operative tests for anesthesia management are often ordered by both anesthesiologists and surgeons for healthy patients undergoing low-risk surgery. The Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF) was developed to investigate determinants of behaviour and identify potential behaviour change interventions. In this study, the TDF is used to explore anaesthesiologists’ and surgeons’ perceptions of ordering routine tests for healthy patients undergoing low-risk surgery.
Sixteen clinicians (eleven anesthesiologists and five surgeons) throughout Ontario were recruited. An interview guide based on the TDF was developed to identify beliefs about pre-operative testing practices. Content analysis of physicians’ statements into the relevant theoretical domains was performed. Specific beliefs were identified by grouping similar utterances of the interview participants. Relevant domains were identified by noting the frequencies of the beliefs reported, presence of conflicting beliefs, and perceived influence on the performance of the behaviour under investigation.
Seven of the twelve domains were identified as likely relevant to changing clinicians’ behaviour about pre-operative test ordering for anesthesia management. Key beliefs were identified within these domains including: conflicting comments about who was responsible for the test-ordering (Social/professional role and identity); inability to cancel tests ordered by fellow physicians (Beliefs about capabilities and social influences); and the problem with tests being completed before the anesthesiologists see the patient (Beliefs about capabilities and Environmental context and resources). Often, tests were ordered by an anesthesiologist based on who may be the attending anesthesiologist on the day of surgery while surgeons ordered tests they thought anesthesiologists may need (Social influences). There were also conflicting comments about the potential consequences associated with reducing testing, from negative (delay or cancel patients’ surgeries), to indifference (little or no change in patient outcomes), to positive (save money, avoid unnecessary investigations) (Beliefs about consequences). Further, while most agreed that they are motivated to reduce ordering unnecessary tests (Motivation and goals), there was still a report of a gap between their motivation and practice (Behavioural regulation).
We identified key factors that anesthesiologists and surgeons believe influence whether they order pre-operative tests routinely for anesthesia management for a healthy adults undergoing low-risk surgery. These beliefs identify potential individual, team, and organisation targets for behaviour change interventions to reduce unnecessary routine test ordering.
PMCID: PMC3522997  PMID: 22682612
Routine pre-operative testing; Anesthesia management; Anesthesiologists; Surgeons; Chest x-rays; Electrocardiograms; Theoretical domains framework; Semi-structured interviews; Content analysis; Social; Professional role and identity; Social influence
5.  Managing low back pain--a comparison of the beliefs and behaviors of family physicians and chiropractors. 
Western Journal of Medicine  1988;149(4):475-480.
Random samples of 605 family physicians and 299 chiropractors in Washington were surveyed to determine their beliefs about back pain and how they would respond to three hypothetic patients with back pain. With 79% of the family physicians and 70% of the chiropractors responding, family physicians and chiropractors differed greatly not only in their technical approaches to back pain--such as drug therapy versus spinal manipulation--but also in their underlying beliefs and attitudes. Family physicians think that most back pain is caused by muscle strain, that lumbosacral radiographs are rarely useful, that appropriate therapy does not depend on a precise diagnosis, and that back pain will usually resolve within a few weeks without professional help. Family physicians were more likely than chiropractors to feel frustrated by patients with back pain, less likely to think they can help patients prevent future episodes of back pain, and less confident that their patients are satisfied with their care. Studies are needed to determine whether the different perspectives of family physicians and chiropractors are associated with differences in the costs and outcomes of care.
PMCID: PMC1026519  PMID: 2976220
6.  Healthcare provider back pain beliefs unaffected by a media campaign 
Healthcare providers play a key role in transmitting knowledge and beliefs about LBP to their patients. There are differences in back pain beliefs between the various professionals groups treating LBP patients. This study examined whether LBP beliefs changed among the healthcare providers exposed to a media campaign.
A quasi-experimental postal before-and-after survey of health professional beliefs following a campaign aimed at improving beliefs about LBP in the general public, and which included specific interventions also towards the healthcare providers.
Two Norwegian counties, with a neighbouring county serving as control.
A total of 243 doctors, physiotherapists, and chiropractors in primary care.
Main outcome measures
Beliefs about LBP before and after exposure to the campaign.
A total of 243 doctors, physiotherapists, and chiropractors answered the questionnaire in 2002 and 2005. A general tendency was observed for all providers to have beliefs more in line with guidelines in 2005 compared with 2002, irrespective of exposure status. Some baseline differences in beliefs between the professional groups were not only sustained but in fact seemed to increase from 2002 to 2005. This was particularly as regards LBP as a self-limiting condition.
An LBP mass media campaign with educational initiatives aimed at healthcare providers did not result in important improvement in LBP beliefs of providers exposed to the campaign. Important differences were observed between beliefs of the different healthcare provider groups in their view of LBP.
PMCID: PMC3406630  PMID: 18297564
Beliefs; family practice; healthcare providers; low back pain; media campaign
7.  The Nordic maintenance care program: case management of chiropractic patients with low back pain – defining the patients suitable for various management strategies 
Maintenance care is a well known concept among chiropractors, although there is little knowledge about its exact definition, its indications and usefulness. As an initial step in a research program on this phenomenon, it was necessary to identify chiropractors' rationale for their use of maintenance care. Previous studies have identified chiropractors' choices of case management strategies in response to different case scenarios. However, the rationale for these management strategies is not known. In other words, when presented with both the case, and different management strategies, there was consensus on how to match these, but if only the management strategies were provided, would chiropractors be able to define the cases to fit these strategies? The objective with this study was to investigate if there is a common pattern in Finnish chiropractors' case management of patients with low back pain (LBP), with special emphasis on long-term treatment.
Information was obtained in a structured workshop. Fifteen chiropractors, members of the Finnish Chiropractors' Union, and present at the general assembly, participated throughout the entire workshop session. These were divided into five teams each consisting of 3 people. A basic case of a patient with low back pain was presented together with six different management strategies undertaken after one month of treatment. Each team was then asked to describe one (or several) suitable case(s) for each of the six strategies, based on the aspects of 1) symptoms/findings, 2) the low back pain history in the past year, and 3) other observations. After each session the people in the groups were changed. Responses were collected as key words on flip-over boards. These responses were grouped and counted.
There appeared to be consensus among the participants in relation to the rationale for at least four of the management strategies and partial consensus on the rationale for the remaining two. In relation to maintenance care, the patient's past history was important but also the doctor-patient relationship.
These results confirm that there is a pattern among Nordic chiropractors in how they manage patients with LBP. More information is needed to define the "cut-point" for the indication of prolonged care.
PMCID: PMC2717107  PMID: 19594894
8.  Chiropractic treatment of patients younger than 18 years of age: Frequency, patterns and chiropractors’ beliefs 
Paediatrics & Child Health  2001;6(7):433-438.
To explore how and when chiropractors are involved in the care of patients younger than 18 years of age, and to examine chiropractors’ beliefs about treating paediatric patients.
A cross-sectional survey of a random sample of 140 chiropractors practising in Alberta. Data were collected by means of a mailed questionnaire, which elicited practice information and chiropractors’ beliefs, and included closed-and open-ended questions related to six vignettes of paediatric health problems.
Fifty-seven per cent of chiropractors responded to the questionnaire. All chiropractors indicated that they treat patients younger than 18 years of age. Nine per cent of respondents do not treat patients younger than age two years, and 4% do not treat patients from ages six to 11 years. On average, 13% of chiropractors’ total patient load over the month preceding the completion of the questionnaires consisted of patients younger than the age of 18 years. With increasing age, patients are more likely to present with musculoskeletal problems (23% of patients younger than age two years, 84% of those aged 14 to 17 years). Chiropractors reported that they provided musculoskeletal treatment regardless of the cause of the problem. A high percentage of chiropractors refer to physicians and reported that they would like to provide concomitant care with physicians.
The present study has shown that chiropractors do treat children and that their opinions about this practice vary by specific condition. In addition, substantial percentages of chiropractors indicated that they would like to work with physicians in treating patients with nonmusculoskeletal conditions.
PMCID: PMC2807756  PMID: 20107550
9.  The rationale for primary spine care employing biopsychosocial, stratified and diagnosis-based care-pathways at a chiropractic college public clinic: a literature review 
Current management practices for low back pain have led to rising costs without evidence of improvement in the quality of care. Low back pain remains a diagnostic and management challenge for practitioners of many types and is now thought to be a leading global cause of disability. Beyond many published clinical practice guidelines, there are emerging, evidence-based care-pathways including stratification according to the patient's prognosis, classification-based management, diagnosis-based clinical decision guides and biopsychosocial models of care. A proposed solution for successfully addressing low back pain is to train residents at a chiropractic college public clinic to function as primary spine care practitioners, employing evidence-based care-pathways. The rationale for such is described with expected benefits to patient care, improved financial health of medical delivery systems and the training of chiropractors to successfully fill a niche in the healthcare system.
PMCID: PMC3697987  PMID: 23758900
Low back pain; Diagnosis-based guide; Biopsychosocial; Care-pathways; Primary spine care practitioner
10.  Integrative care for the management of low back pain: use of a clinical care pathway 
For the treatment of chronic back pain, it has been theorized that integrative care plans can lead to better outcomes than those achieved by monodisciplinary care alone, especially when using a collaborative, interdisciplinary, and non-hierarchical team approach. This paper describes the use of a care pathway designed to guide treatment by an integrative group of providers within a randomized controlled trial.
A clinical care pathway was used by a multidisciplinary group of providers, which included acupuncturists, chiropractors, cognitive behavioral therapists, exercise therapists, massage therapists and primary care physicians. Treatment recommendations were based on an evidence-informed practice model, and reached by group consensus. Research study participants were empowered to select one of the treatment recommendations proposed by the integrative group. Common principles and benchmarks were established to guide treatment management throughout the study.
Thirteen providers representing 5 healthcare professions collaborated to provide integrative care to study participants. On average, 3 to 4 treatment plans, each consisting of 2 to 3 modalities, were recommended to study participants. Exercise, massage, and acupuncture were both most commonly recommended by the team and selected by study participants. Changes to care commonly incorporated cognitive behavioral therapy into treatment plans.
This clinical care pathway was a useful tool for the consistent application of evidence-based care for low back pain in the context of an integrative setting.
Trial registration NCT00567333
PMCID: PMC2984498  PMID: 21034483
11.  The appropriate use of radiography in clinical practice: a report of two cases of biomechanical versus malignant spine pain 
To describe the evaluation, treatment, management and referral of two patients with back pain with an eventual malignant etiology, who were first thought to have a non-organic biomechanical disorder.
Clinical features
The study was a retrospective review of the clinical course of two patients seen by a chiropractor in a multi-disciplinary outpatient facility, who presented with what was thought to be non-organic biomechanical spine pain. Clinical examination by both medical and chiropractic physicians did not indicate the need for radiography in the early course of management of either patient. Upon subsequent re-evaluation, it was decided that certain clinical factors required investigation with advanced imaging.
In one instance, the patient responded to conservative care of low back pain for nine weeks, after which she developed severe pain in the pelvis. In the second case, the patient presented with signs and symptoms consistent with uncomplicated musculoskeletal pain that failed to respond to a course of conservative care. He was referred for medical therapy which also failed to relieve his pain. In both patients, malignancy was eventually discovered with magnetic resonance imaging and both patients are now deceased, resulting in an inability to obtain informed consent for the publication of this manuscript.
In these two cases, the prudent use of diagnostic plain film radiography did not significantly alter the appropriate long-term management of patients with neuromusculoskeletal signs and symptoms. The judicious use of magnetic resonance imaging was an effective procedure when investigating recalcitrant neuromusculoskeletal pain in these two patients.
PMCID: PMC1488857  PMID: 16734899
12.  Identifying patients’ beliefs about treatments for chronic low back pain in primary care: a focus group study 
The British Journal of General Practice  2013;63(612):e490-e498.
Current evidence-based guidelines for low back pain (LBP) recommend multiple diverse approaches to treatment and suggest considering patient preferences when formulating a treatment plan.
To explore patient preferences and to identify patients’ beliefs about LBP treatments.
Design and setting
Qualitative study using focus groups in primary care in South-West England.
Thirteen focus groups were organised with a purposive sample of 75 adults with LBP. Group discussions of LBP treatments were facilitated, audiorecorded, and the verbatim transcripts thematically analysed.
Eight themes were identified, four related to treatment beliefs and four to seeking treatment. Treatment beliefs comprised participants’ expectations and appraisals of specific treatments, which were underpinned by four distinct dimensions: credibility, effectiveness, concerns and individual fit. Treatment beliefs were expressed in the broader context of treatment seeking: participants’ primary concern was to obtain a clear explanation of their LBP which went beyond a diagnostic label and provided an understanding of the cause(s) of their LBP. They described engaging in self-management activities and claimed they were willing to try anything if it might help them. Participants wanted an empathic and expert practitioner who could deliver a suitable treatment (or refer them on to someone else) and help them to negotiate the challenges of the healthcare system.
These findings highlight the importance of helping patients develop coherent illness representations about their LBP before trying to engage them in treatment-decisions, uptake, or adherence. Addressing patients’ illness and treatment perceptions in clinical practice could improve shared decision making and patient outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3693806  PMID: 23834886
back pain; health knowledge, attitudes, practice; illness behaviour; patient preference; primary health care; qualitative research
13.  The Nordic maintenance care program: what is maintenance care? Interview based survey of Danish chiropractors 
To describe and interpret Danish Chiropractors’ perspectives regarding the purpose and rationale for using MC (maintenance care), its content, course and patient characteristics.
Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 chiropractors identified using a stratified, theoretical sampling framework. Interviews covered four domains relating to MC, namely: purpose, patient characteristics, content, and course and development. Data was analysed thematically.
Practitioners regard MC primarily as a means of providing secondary or tertiary care and they primarily recommend it to patients with a history of recurrence. Initiating MC is often a shared decision between clinician and patient. The core elements of MC are examination and manipulation, but exercise and general lifestyle advice are often included. Typically, treatment intervals lie between 2 and 4 months. Clinician MC practices seem to evolve over time and are informed by individual practice experiences.
Chiropractors are more likely to offer MC to patients whose complaints include a significant muscular component. Furthermore, a successful transition to MC appears dependent on correctly matching complaint with management. A positive relationship between chiropractor and patient facilitates the initiation of MC. Finally; MC appears grounded in a patient-oriented approach to care rather than a market-oriented one.
MC is perceived as both a secondary and tertiary preventative measure and its practice appears grounded in the tenet of patient-oriented care. A positive personal relationship between chiropractor and patient facilitates the initiation of MC. The results from this and previous studies should be considered in the design of studies of efficacy.
PMCID: PMC3766236  PMID: 23962318
Maintenance care; Chiropractic; Prophylaxis; Prevention; Health care services; Public health
14.  A survey of Australian chiropractors’ attitudes and beliefs about evidence-based practice and their use of research literature and clinical practice guidelines 
Research into chiropractors’ use of evidence in clinical practice appears limited to a single small qualitative study. The paucity of research in this area suggests that it is timely to undertake a more extensive study to build a more detailed understanding of the factors that influence chiropractors’ adoption of evidence-based practice (EBP) principles. This study aimed to identify Australian chiropractors’ attitudes and beliefs towards EBP in clinical practice, and also examine their use of research literature and clinical practice guidelines.
We used an online questionnaire about attitudes, beliefs and behaviours towards the use of EBP in clinical practice that had been developed to survey physiotherapists and modified it to ensure that it was relevant to chiropractic practice. We endeavoured to survey all registered Australian chiropractors (n = 4378) via email invitation distributed by Australian chiropractic professional organisations and the Chiropractic Board of Australia. Logistic regression analyses were conducted to examine univariate associations between responses to items measuring attitudes and beliefs with items measuring: age; years since registration; attention to literature; and use of clinical practice guidelines.
Questionnaires were returned by 584 respondents (response rate approximately 13%). The respondents’ perceptions of EBP were generally positive: most agreed that the application of EBP is necessary (77.9%), literature and research findings are useful (80.2%), EBP helps them make decisions about patient care (66.5%), and expressed an interest in learning or improving EBP skills (74.9%). Almost half of the respondents (45.1%) read between two to five articles a month. Close to half of the respondents (44.7%) used literature in the process of clinical decision making two to five times each month. About half of the respondents (52.4%) agreed that they used clinical practice guidelines, and around half (54.4%) agreed that they were able to incorporate patient preferences with clinical practice guidelines. The most common factor associated with increased research uptake was the perception that EBP helps make decisions about patient care.
Most Australian chiropractors hold positive attitudes towards EBP, thought EBP was useful, and were interested in improving EBP skills. However, despite the favourable inclination towards EBP, many Australian chiropractors did not use clinical practice guidelines. Our findings should be interpreted cautiously due to the low response rate.
PMCID: PMC3878410  PMID: 24345082
15.  The Nordic Maintenance Care Program – An interview study on the use of maintenance care in a selected group of Danish chiropractors 
Although maintenance care appears to be relatively commonly used among chiropractors, the indications for its use are incompletely understood. A questionnaire survey was recently carried out among Swedish chiropractors in order to identify their choice of various management strategies, including maintenance care. That study revealed a common pattern of choice of strategies. However, it would be necessary to verify these findings in another study population and to obtain some additional information best collected through an interview.
The main aim of the present study was to attempt to reproduce the findings in the Swedish study and to obtain more information on the use of maintenance care.
A group of 11 chiropractors were selected because they used maintenance care. They were interviewed using the questionnaire from the previous Swedish survey. The questionnaire consisted of a simple description of a hypothetical patient with low back pain and nine possible ways in which the case could develop ("scenarios"). They could choose between six different management strategies for each scenario. In addition, the chiropractors were encouraged to provide their own definition of maintenance care in an open-ended question. Interviews were taped, transcribed and analyzed. For the open-ended question, statements were identified relating to six pre hoc defined topics on the inclusion criteria/rationale for maintenance care, the frequency of treatments, and the duration of the maintenance care program.
The open-ended question revealed that in patients with low back pain, maintenance care appears to be offered to prevent new events. The rationale was to obtain optimal spinal function. There appears to be no common convention on the frequency of treatments and duration of the treatment program was not mentioned by any of the interviewees.
The results from the questionnaire in the Danish survey showed that the response pattern for the nine scenarios was similar to that obtained in the Swedish survey. There seems to be relative agreement between chiropractors working in different countries and sampled through different methods in relation to their choice of management strategies in patients with low back pain. However, more precise information is needed on the indications for maintenance care and its treatment program, before proceeding to studying its clinical validity.
PMCID: PMC2704232  PMID: 19534801
16.  Randomised comparison of chiropractic and hospital outpatient management for low back pain: results from extended follow up. 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1995;311(7001):349-351.
OBJECTIVE--To compare the effectiveness over three years of chiropractic and hospital outpatient management for low back pain. DESIGN--Randomised allocation of patients to chiropractic or hospital outpatient management. SETTING--Chiropractic clinics and hospital outpatient departments within reasonable travelling distance of each other in 11 centres. SUBJECTS--741 men and women aged 18-64 years with low back pain in whom manipulation was not contraindicated. OUTCOME MEASURES--Change in total Oswestry questionnaire score and in score for pain and patient satisfaction with allocated treatment. RESULTS--According to total Oswestry scores improvement in all patients at three years was about 29% more in those treated by chiropractors than in those treated by the hospitals. The beneficial effect of chiropractic on pain was particularly clear. Those treated by chiropractors had more further treatments for back pain after the completion of trial treatment. Among both those initially referred from chiropractors and from hospitals more rated chiropractic helpful at three years than hospital management. CONCLUSIONS--At three years the results confirm the findings of an earlier report that when chiropractic or hospital therapists treat patients with low back pain as they would in day to day practice those treated by chiropractic derive more benefit and long term satisfaction than those treated by hospitals.
PMCID: PMC2550426  PMID: 7640538
17.  Survey of US chiropractors' perceptions about their clinical role as specialist or generalist 
The purpose of this study was to provide new information that describes chiropractors' professional identity relative to their perceived clinical role as specialist or generalist.
A pragmatic, descriptive, cross-sectional survey was performed of randomly sampled state-board licensed chiropractors in the United States during the period 2002–2003 to assess the chiropractors' perceptions of how their chiropractic patients see them, and how they see themselves, as specialist or generalist. For this exploratory study, we anchored the terms “back pain specialist,” “musculoskeletal specialist,” and “primary care generalist” to brief generic reference definitions in our survey instrument.
Of our 2598 valid survey contacts, 1343 chiropractors returned their surveys either partially or fully completed, and a total of 720 chiropractor surveys were used in this study. Most of these chiropractors perceived that their new patients viewed them as “back pain specialists.” Chiropractors believed that their established patients (80%), more so than their new patients (58%), were likely to view them as a primary care generalist. Chiropractors described themselves as both specialist and generalist, and they expressed a greater capability to diagnose, rather than to treat, health disorders that were not musculoskeletal.
Chiropractic physician perceptions as reported in this study suggest that the nature of certain chiropractor-patient relationships may evolve profoundly over time, particularly as patients transition from new to established patients within the chiropractic practice. Understanding the complex nature of chiropractic health care provision may carry implications for advancing evidence-based chiropractic practice and clinical training, enhancing successful and comprehensive management of the complex health concerns of chiropractic patients, fostering beneficial sustained partnerships between chiropractors and their patients, and improving overall delivery of optimal integrative health care.
PMCID: PMC3342799  PMID: 22693463
Chiropractic; Health occupations; Back pain; Specialization
18.  Traumatic spondylolysis in a heptathlete: a case history and review 
To summarize the literature on stress fractures amongst athletes and to present an unusual case of an L2 stress fracture in a heptathlete who was successfully treated initially with chiropractic care and then aggravated by it.
Clinical Features
An elite heptathlete was diagnosed with bilateral pars interarticularis stress fractures of the L2 vertebrae. She initially presented for chiropractic treatment with unremitting low back pain. This followed previous successful treatment for back pain. After a series of unsuccessful treatments a second opinion (chiropractor) was sought. After a thorough history and examination, a series of radiographs were performed. Single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) imaging confirmed the presence of bilateral spondylolysis at L2.
Intervention and Outcome
The patient began a graduated return to function that was initially based in rest and avoidance of all extension and rotational movement of the lumbar spine. Management gradually returned the patient to general activity followed by more progressive and sport specific activity after the fracture had sufficient time to heal.
This case highlights the importance of considering the type of pain, its location, the mechanism of injury, imaging studies and the result of the treatment in the short and medium term in establishing an accurate diagnosis of stress fracture of the pars interarticularis.
PMCID: PMC2647038  PMID: 19674651
Chiropractic; Fractures, Stress; Low Back Pain
19.  Acute paraplegia after chiropraxis 
European Spine Journal  2010;20(Suppl 2):143-146.
Spinal manipulation is a form of back and other musculoskeletal pain treatment that often involves a high-velocity thrust, a technique in which the joints are adjusted rapidly. The main objective of chiropractors is to correct spinal malalignment and relieve the nerves, allowing them to function optimally (Ernst In: Expert Rev Neurother 7:1451–1452, 2007; Oppenheim et al. In: Spine J 5:660–666, 2005). The evidence for the effectiveness of this treatment based on randomized clinical trials still remains uncertain (Cassidy et al. In: Spine 33(4 suppl): S176–S183, 2008; Dupeyron et al. In: Ann Readapt Med Phys 46:33–40, 2003; Ernst et al. In: Expert Rev Neurother 7:1451–1452, 2007; Hurwitz et al. In: J Manipulative Physiol Ther 27:16–25, 2007; Thiel et al. In: Spine 32: 2375–2378, 2007). Several case reports and series have been focusing on the risks of chiropraxis, especially on the cervical spine, although the risk/benefit ratio for certain selected patients could be acceptable (Powell et al.In: Neurosurgery 33:73–78, 1993). We describe the case of a 45-year-old woman who suffered complete paraplegia shortly after a chiropractic maneuver in the thoracic spine. Dorsal CT showed a calcified disc herniation at the T8–T9 level and MRI revealed a diffuse spinal cord ischemia from T6 to the conus medullaris without spinal cord compression at the level of herniation. Despite a normal arteriography, authors suggest a vascular injury as the cause of the deficit.
PMCID: PMC3111500  PMID: 20556441
Chiropraxis; Spinal cord ischemia; Acute paraplegia; Herniated disc
20.  A cross-country comparison of intensive care physicians’ beliefs about their transfusion behaviour: A qualitative study using the theoretical domains framework 
Evidence of variations in red blood cell transfusion practices have been reported in a wide range of clinical settings. Parallel studies in Canada and the United Kingdom were designed to explore transfusion behaviour in intensive care physicians. The aim of this paper is three-fold: first, to explore beliefs that influence Canadian intensive care physicians’ transfusion behaviour; second, to systematically select relevant theories and models using the Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF) to inform a future predictive study; and third, to compare its results with the UK study.
Ten intensive care unit (ICU) physicians throughout Canada were interviewed. Physicians’ responses were coded into theoretical domains, and specific beliefs were generated for each response. Theoretical domains relevant to behaviour change were identified, and specific constructs from the relevant domains were used to select psychological theories. The results from Canada and the United Kingdom were compared.
Seven theoretical domains populated by 31 specific beliefs were identified as relevant to the target behaviour. The domains Beliefs about capabilities (confident to not transfuse if patients’ clinical condition is stable), Beliefs about consequences (positive beliefs of reducing infection and saving resources and negative beliefs about risking patients’ clinical outcome and potentially more work), Social influences (transfusion decision is influenced by team members and patients’ relatives), and Behavioural regulation (wide range of approaches to encourage restrictive transfusion) that were identified in the UK study were also relevant in the Canadian context. Three additional domains, Knowledge (it requires more evidence to support restrictive transfusion), Social/professional role and identity (conflicting beliefs about not adhering to guidelines, referring to evidence, believing restrictive transfusion as professional standard, and believing that guideline is important for other professionals), and Motivation and goals (opposing beliefs about the importance of restrictive transfusion and compatibility with other goals), were also identified in this study. Similar to the UK study, the Theory of Planned Behaviour, Social Cognitive Theory, Operant Learning Theory, Action Planning, and Knowledge-Attitude-Behaviour model were identified as potentially relevant theories and models for further study. Personal project analysis was added to the Canadian study to explore the Motivation and goals domain in further detail.
A wide range of beliefs was identified by the Canadian ICU physicians as likely to influence their transfusion behaviour. We were able to demonstrate similar though not identical results in a cross-country comparison. Designing targeted behaviour-change interventions based on unique beliefs identified by physicians from two countries are more likely to encourage restrictive transfusion in ICU physicians in respective countries. This needs to be tested in future prospective clinical trials.
PMCID: PMC3527303  PMID: 22999460
21.  The Nordic Maintenance Care Program: Maintenance care – what happens during the consultation? Observations and patient questionnaires 
Because maintenance care (MC) is frequently used by chiropractors in the management of patients with back pain, it is necessary to define the rationale, frequency and indications for MC consultations, and the contents of such consultations. The objectives of the two studies described in this article are: i) to determine the typical spacing between visits for MC patients and to compare MC and non-MC patients, ii) to describe the content of the MC consultation and to compare MC and non-MC patients and iii) to investigate the purposes of the MC program.
In two studies, chiropractors who accepted the MC paradigm were invited to assist with the data collection. In study 1, patients seen by seven different chiropractors were observed by two chiropractic students. They noted the contents of the observed consultations. In study 2, ten chiropractors invited their MC patients to participate in an anonymous survey. Participants filled in a one page questionnaire containing questions on their view of the purposes and contents of their MC consultations. In addition, information was obtained on the duration between appointments in both studies.
There were 178 valid records in study 1, and in study 2 the number of questionnaires received was 373. The time interval between MC visits was close to nine weeks and for non-MC consultations it was two weeks.
The content of the consultations in study 1 was similar for MC and non-MC patients with treatment being the most time-consuming element followed by history taking/examination. MC consultations were slightly shorter than non-MC consultations.
In study 2, the most common activities reported to have taken place were history taking and manipulative therapy. The most commonly reported purposes were to prevent recurring problems, to maintain best possible function and /or to stay as pain free as possible.
The results from these two studies indicate that MC consultations commonly take place with around two months intervals, and that history taking, examination and treatment are as important components in MC as in non-MC consultations. Further, the results demonstrate that most patients consider the goal to be secondary or tertiary prevention.
PMCID: PMC3502115  PMID: 22883475
Chiropractic; Maintenance care; Back pain; Consultation
22.  Factors affecting compliance to chiropractic prescribed home exercise: a review of the literature 
Canadians are often confronted with health conditions that impede their lifestyles. To overcome health related limitations individuals often seek assistance from chiropractors or other allied health care professionals. However, despite the recognized benefits of at home exercise programs, patients continue to remain non-compliant to prescribed routines. Non-compliance to home based routines reduces the probability of successful outcome for therapeutic intervention. The advent of the rehabilitation focus in the Chiropractic profession warrants an examination of factors influencing compliance to home exercise prescribed by the chiropractor. The physiological and psychological benefits are well established. If compliance is high, results will typically be positive (i.e. reduced symptoms of pain, reduced anxiety related to condition, and therapeutic goals attained). However, if compliance is low, therapeutic outcomes will often plateau or worse, reverse. Why does non-compliance seem to prevail? The purpose of this paper is to define exercise compliance, identify factors influencing compliance and to suggest intervention strategies that may improve adherence to home-based exercise prescription by chiropractors.
PMCID: PMC2485527
chiropractic; rehabilitation; exercise
23.  Case management of chiropractic patients with cervical brachialgia: A survey of French chiropractors 
Not much is known about the French chiropractic profession on, for example, level of consensus on clinical issues.
The first objective was to investigate if French chiropractors' management choices appeared reasonable for various neck problem scenarios. The second objective was to investigate if there was agreement between chiropractors on the patient management. The third objective was to see to which degree and at what stages chiropractors would consider to interact with other health-care practitioners, such as physiotherapists, general practitioners and specialists.
A questionnaire was sent to a randomly selected sample of all French chiropractors known to the national chiropractic college. It consisted of an invitation to participate in the study, a brief case description, and drawings of five stages of how a case of neck pain gradually evolves into a brachialgia to end up with a compromised spinal cord. Each stage offered five management choices. Participants were asked at what stages patients would be treated solely by the chiropractor and when patients would be referred out for second opinion or other care without chiropractic treatment, plus an open ended option, resulting in a "five-by-six" table. The percentages of respondents choosing the different management strategies were identified for the different scenarios and the 95% confidence intervals were calculated. There was a pre hoc agreement on when chiropractic care would or would not be suitable. Consensus was arbitrarily defined as "moderate" when 50- 69% of respondents agreed on the same management choice and as "excellent" when 70% or more provided the same answer. It was expected that inter professional contacts would be rare.
The response rate was 53% out of 254 potential participants. The first two uncomplicated cases would generally have been treated by the chiropractors. As the patient worsened, the responses tended towards external assistance and for the most severe case, the majority of respondents would have referred the patient out. There was excellent consensus for the two extreme cases (the most benign and the most severe), moderate consensus for the cases next to these two and least agreement relating to the "middle" case. Inter-professional collaboration was contemplated mainly for the severe case.
The French chiropractors who participated in this study seem to have a similar approach to patients with neck pain that gradually develops into a brachialgia and worsens. However, it is not known if the large group of non-participants in the study would agree with this treatment strategy.
PMCID: PMC3204265  PMID: 21943490
24.  The Nordic maintenance care program – case management of chiropractic patients with low back pain: A survey of Swedish chiropractors 
Chiropractic treatment for low back pain (LBP) can often be divided into two phases: Initial treatment of the problem to attempt to remove pain and bring it back into its pre-clinical or maximum improvement status, and "maintenance care", during which it is attempted to maintain this status. Although the use of chiropractic maintenance care has been described and discussed in the literature, there is no information as to its precise indications. The objective of this study is to investigate if there is agreement among Swedish chiropractors on the overall patient management for various types of LBP-scenarios, with a special emphasis on maintenance care.
The design was a mailed questionnaire survey. Members of the Swedish Chiropractors' Association, who were participants in previous practice-based research, were sent a closed-end questionnaire consisting of nine case scenarios and six clinical management alternatives and the possibility to create one's own alternative, resulting in a "nine-by-seven" table. The research team defined its own pre hoc choice of "clinically logical" answers based on the team's clinical experience. The frequency of findings was compared to the suggestions of the research team.
Replies were received from 59 (60%) of the 99 persons who were invited to take part in the study. A pattern of self-reported clinical management strategies emerged, largely corresponding to the "clinically logical" answers suggested by the research team. In general, patients of concern would be referred out for a second opinion, cases with early recovery and without a history of previous low back pain would be quickly closed, and cases with quick recovery and a history of recurring events would be considered for maintenance care. However, also other management patterns were noted, in particular in the direction of maintenance care.
To a reasonable extent, Swedish chiropractors participating in this survey appear to agree on the clinical management for different cases of LBP.
PMCID: PMC2442107  PMID: 18559119
25.  Low back pain risk factors in a large rural Australian Aboriginal community. An opportunity for managing co-morbidities? 
Low back pain (LBP) is the most prevalent musculo-skeletal condition in rural and remote Australian Aboriginal communities. Smoking, physical inactivity and obesity are also prevalent amongst Indigenous people contributing to lifestyle diseases and concurrently to the high burden of low back pain.
This paper aims to examine the association between LBP and modifiable risk factors in a large rural Indigenous community as a basis for informing a musculo-skeletal and related health promotion program.
A community Advisory Group (CAG) comprising Elders, Aboriginal Health Workers, academics, nurses, a general practitioner and chiropractors assisted in the development of measures to assess self-reported musculo-skeletal conditions including LBP risk factors. The Kempsey survey included a community-based survey administered by Aboriginal Health Workers followed by a clinical assessment conducted by chiropractors.
Age and gender characteristics of this Indigenous sample (n = 189) were comparable to those reported in previous Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) studies of the broader Indigenous population. A history of traumatic events was highly prevalent in the community, as were occupational risk factors. Thirty-four percent of participants reported a previous history of LBP. Sporting injuries were associated with multiple musculo-skeletal conditions, including LBP. Those reporting high levels of pain were often overweight or obese and obesity was associated with self-reported low back strain. Common barriers to medical management of LBP included an attitude of being able to cope with pain, poor health, and the lack of affordable and appropriate health care services.
Though many of the modifiable risk factors known to be associated with LBP were highly prevalent in this study, none of these were statistically associated with LBP.
Addressing particular modifiable risk factors associated with LBP such as smoking, physical inactivity and obesity may also present a wider opportunity to prevent and manage the high burden of illness imposed by co-morbidities such as heart disease and type-2 diabetes.
PMCID: PMC1277832  PMID: 16197555
Low back pain; risk factors; chiropractic; general health; Australian; Aboriginal; Indigenous

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