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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Pregnancy; Chiropractic; Qualitative; Exercise; Spinal manipulative therapy; Nutrition; Adverse effects
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.
Beliefs; family practice; healthcare providers; low back pain; media campaign
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.
Low back pain; Diagnosis-based guide; Biopsychosocial; Care-pathways; Primary spine care practitioner
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
back pain; health knowledge, attitudes, practice; illness behaviour; patient preference; primary health care; qualitative research
BACKGROUND: Lumbar spine radiography has limited use in diagnosing the cause of acute low back pain. Consensus-based guidelines recommend that lumbar spine x-rays are not used routinely. However there have been no studies of the effect of referral for radiography at first presentation with low back pain in primary care. AIM: To compare short and long-term physical, social, and psychiatric outcomes for patients with low back pain who are referred or not referred for lumbar spine x-ray at first presentation in general practice. DESIGN OF STUDY: A randomised unblinded controlled trial with an observational arm to enable comparisons to be made with patients not recruited to the trial. SETTING: Ninety-four general practices in south London and the South Thames region. METHOD: Patients consulting their general practitioner (GP) with low back pain at first presentation were recruited to a randomised controlled trial (RCT) or to an observational group. Patients in the trial were randomly allocated to immediate referral for x-ray or to no referral. All patients were asked to complete questionnaires initially, and then at six weeks and one year after recruitment. RESULTS: Six hundred and fifty-nine patients were recruited over 26 months: 153 to the randomised trial and 506 to the observational arm. In the RCT referral for x-ray had no effect on physical functioning, pain or disability, but was associated with a small improvement in psychological wellbeing at six weeks and one year. These findings were supported by the observational study in which there were no differences between the groups in physical outcomes after adjusting for length of episode at presentation; however, those referred for x-ray had lower depression scores. CONCLUSIONS: Referral for lumbar spine radiography for first presentation of low back pain in primary care is not associated with improved physical functioning, pain or disability. The possibility of minor psychological improvement should be balanced against the high radiation dose involved.
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.
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.
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.
Chiropractic; Fractures, Stress; Low Back Pain
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.
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.
chiropractic; rehabilitation; exercise
In the last decade the sub grouping of low back pain (LBP) patients according to their likely response to treatment has been identified as a research priority. As with other patient groups, researchers have found few if any factors from the case history or physical examination that are helpful in predicting the outcome of chiropractic care. However, in the wider LBP population psychosocial factors have been identified that are significantly prognostic. This study investigated changes in the components of the LBP fear-avoidance beliefs model in patients pre- and post- their initial visit with a chiropractor to determine if there was a relationship with outcomes at 1 month.
Seventy one new patients with lower back pain as their primary complaint presenting for chiropractic care to one of five clinics (nine chiropractors) completed questionnaires before their initial visit (pre-visit) and again just before their second appointment (post-visit). One month after the initial consultation, patient global impression of change (PGIC) scores were collected. Pre visit and post visit psychological domain scores were analysed for any association with outcomes at 1 month.
Group mean scores for Fear Avoidance Beliefs (FAB), catastrophisation and self-efficacy were all improved significantly within a few days of a patient's initial chiropractic consultation. Pre-visit catastrophisation as well as post-visit scores for catastrophisation, back beliefs (inevitability) and self-efficacy were weakly correlated with patient's global impression of change (PGIC) at 1 month. However when the four assessed psychological variables were dichotomised about pre-visit group medians those individuals with 2 or more high variables post-visit had a substantially increased risk (OR 36.4 (95% CI 6.2-213.0) of poor recovery at 1 month. Seven percent of patients with 1 or fewer adverse psychological variables described poor benefit compared to 73% of those with 2 or more.
The results presented suggest that catastrophisation, FAB and low self-efficacy could be potential barriers to early improvement during chiropractic care. In most patients presenting with higher psychological scores these were reduced within a few days of an initial chiropractic visit. Those patients who exhibited higher adverse psychology post-initial visit appear to have an increased risk of poor outcome at 1 month.
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.
Maintenance care; Chiropractic; Prophylaxis; Prevention; Health care services; Public health
In the field of implementation research, there is an increased interest in use of theory when designing implementation research studies involving behavior change. In 2003, we initiated a series of five studies to establish a scientific rationale for interventions to translate research findings into clinical practice by exploring the performance of a number of different, commonly used, overlapping behavioral theories and models. We reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of the methods, the performance of the theories, and consider where these methods sit alongside the range of methods for studying healthcare professional behavior change.
These were five studies of the theory-based cognitions and clinical behaviors (taking dental radiographs, performing dental restorations, placing fissure sealants, managing upper respiratory tract infections without prescribing antibiotics, managing low back pain without ordering lumbar spine x-rays) of random samples of primary care dentists and physicians. Measures were derived for the explanatory theoretical constructs in the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB), Social Cognitive Theory (SCT), and Illness Representations specified by the Common Sense Self Regulation Model (CSSRM). We constructed self-report measures of two constructs from Learning Theory (LT), a measure of Implementation Intentions (II), and the Precaution Adoption Process. We collected data on theory-based cognitions (explanatory measures) and two interim outcome measures (stated behavioral intention and simulated behavior) by postal questionnaire survey during the 12-month period to which objective measures of behavior (collected from routine administrative sources) were related. Planned analyses explored the predictive value of theories in explaining variance in intention, behavioral simulation and behavior.
Response rates across the five surveys ranged from 21% to 48%; we achieved the target sample size for three of the five surveys. For the predictor variables, the mean construct scores were above the mid-point on the scale with median values across the five behaviors generally being above four out of seven and the range being from 1.53 to 6.01. Across all of the theories, the highest proportion of the variance explained was always for intention and the lowest was for behavior. The Knowledge-Attitudes-Behavior Model performed poorly across all behaviors and dependent variables; CSSRM also performed poorly. For TPB, SCT, II, and LT across the five behaviors, we predicted median R2 of 25% to 42.6% for intention, 6.2% to 16% for behavioral simulation, and 2.4% to 6.3% for behavior.
We operationalized multiple theories measuring across five behaviors. Continuing challenges that emerge from our work are: better specification of behaviors, better operationalization of theories; how best to appropriately extend the range of theories; further assessment of the value of theories in different settings and groups; exploring the implications of these methods for the management of chronic diseases; and moving to experimental designs to allow an understanding of behavior change.
Psychological models predict behaviour in a wide range of settings. The aim of this study was to explore the usefulness of a range of psychological models to predict the health professional behaviour 'referral for lumbar spine x-ray in patients presenting with low back pain' by UK primary care physicians.
Psychological measures were collected by postal questionnaire survey from a random sample of primary care physicians in Scotland and north England. The outcome measures were clinical behaviour (referral rates for lumbar spine x-rays), behavioural simulation (lumbar spine x-ray referral decisions based upon scenarios), and behavioural intention (general intention to refer for lumbar spine x-rays in patients with low back pain). Explanatory variables were the constructs within the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB), Social Cognitive Theory (SCT), Common Sense Self-Regulation Model (CS-SRM), Operant Learning Theory (OLT), Implementation Intention (II), Weinstein's Stage Model termed the Precaution Adoption Process (PAP), and knowledge. For each of the outcome measures, a generalised linear model was used to examine the predictive value of each theory individually. Linear regression was used for the intention and simulation outcomes, and negative binomial regression was used for the behaviour outcome. Following this 'theory level' analysis, a 'cross-theoretical construct' analysis was conducted to investigate the combined predictive value of all individual constructs across theories.
Constructs from TPB, SCT, CS-SRM, and OLT predicted behaviour; however, the theoretical models did not fit the data well. When predicting behavioural simulation, the proportion of variance explained by individual theories was TPB 11.6%, SCT 12.1%, OLT 8.1%, and II 1.5% of the variance, and in the cross-theory analysis constructs from TPB, CS-SRM and II explained 16.5% of the variance in simulated behaviours. When predicting intention, the proportion of variance explained by individual theories was TPB 25.0%, SCT 21.5%, CS-SRM 11.3%, OLT 26.3%, PAP 2.6%, and knowledge 2.3%, and in the cross-theory analysis constructs from TPB, SCT, CS-SRM, and OLT explained 33.5% variance in intention. Together these results suggest that physicians' beliefs about consequences and beliefs about capabilities are likely determinants of lumbar spine x-ray referrals.
The study provides evidence that taking a theory-based approach enables the creation of a replicable methodology for identifying factors that predict clinical behaviour. However, a number of conceptual and methodological challenges remain.
Despite the availability of clinical guidelines for the management of low back pain (LBP), there continues to be wide variation in general practitioners' (GPs') referral rates for lumbar spine x-ray (LSX). This study aims to explain variation in GPs' referral rates for LSX from their accounts of the management of patients with low back pain.
Qualitative, semi-structured interviews with 29 GPs with high and low referral rates for LSX in North East England. Thematic analysis used constant comparative techniques.
Common and divergent themes were identified among high- and low-users of LSX. Themes that were similar in both groups included an awareness of current guidelines for the use of LSX for patients with LBP and the pressure from patients and institutional factors to order a LSX. Differentiating themes for the high-user group included: a belief that LSX provides reassurance to patients that can outweigh risks, pessimism about the management options for LBP, and a belief that denying LSX would adversely affect doctor-patient relationships. Two specific differentiating themes are considered in more depth: GPs' awareness of their use of lumbar spine radiology relative to others, and the perceived risks associated with LSX radiation.
Several key factors differentiate the accounts of GPs who have high and low rates of referral for LSX, even though they are aware of clinical guideline recommendations. Intervention studies that aim to increase adherence to guideline recommendations on the use of LSX by changing the ordering behaviour of practitioners in primary care should focus on these factors.
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.
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.
Chiropraxis; Spinal cord ischemia; Acute paraplegia; Herniated disc
To investigate risk factors for low-back pain (LBP) presenting for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), with special focus on whole-body vibration (WBV).
A case-control approach was used. The study population comprised working-aged subjects from a catchment area for radiology services. Cases were a consecutive series referred for a lumbar MRI because of LBP. Controls were age- sex-matched subjects X-rayed for other reasons. Subjects were questioned about physical factors loading the spine, psychosocial factors, driving, personal characteristics, mental health, and certain beliefs about LBP. Exposure to WBV was assessed by six measures, including weekly duration of professional driving, hours driven at a spell, and current r.m.s. A(8). Associations with WBV were examined with adjustment for age, sex, and other potential confounders.
Altogether, 252 cases and 820 controls were studied, including 185 professional drivers. Strong associations were found with poor mental health and belief in work as a causal factor for LBP, and with occupational sitting for ≥3 hours while not driving. Associations were also seen with taller stature, consulting propensity, BMI, smoking history, fear-avoidance beliefs, frequent twisting, low decision latitude and low support at work. However, associations with the six metrics of WBV were weak and not statistically significant, and no exposure-response relationships were found.
We found little evidence of a risk from professional driving or WBV. Drivers were substantially less heavily exposed to WBV than in some earlier surveys. Nonetheless, it seems that at the population level, WBV is not an important cause of LBP referred for MRI.
Imaging; radiology; back; occupational risk factors; driving; mental health
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.