Typically a large amount of information is collected during healthcare research and this information needs to be organised in a way that will make it manageable and to facilitate clear reporting. The Chiropractic Observation and Analysis STudy (COAST) was a cross sectional observational study that described the clinical practices of chiropractors in Victoria, Australia. To code chiropractic encounters COAST used the International Classification of Primary Care (ICPC-2) with the PLUS general practice clinical terminology to code chiropractic encounters. This paper describes the process by which a chiropractic-profession specific terminology was developed for use in research by expanding the current ICPC-2 PLUS system.
The coder referred to the ICPC-2 PLUS system when coding chiropractor recorded encounter details (reasons for encounter, diagnoses/problems and processes of care). The coder used rules and conventions supplied by the Family Medicine Research Unit at the University of Sydney, the developers of the PLUS system. New chiropractic specific terms and codes were created when a relevant term was not available in ICPC-2 PLUS.
Information was collected from 52 chiropractors who documented 4,464 chiropractor-patient encounters. During the study, 6,225 reasons for encounter and 6,491 diagnoses/problems were documented, coded and analysed; 169 new chiropractic specific terms were added to the ICPC-2 PLUS terminology list. Most new terms were allocated to diagnoses/problems, with reasons for encounter generally well covered in the original ICPC 2 PLUS terminology: 3,074 of the 6,491 (47%) diagnoses/problems and 274 of the 6,225 (4%) reasons for encounter recorded during encounters were coded to a new term. Twenty nine new terms (17%) represented chiropractic processes of care.
While existing ICPC-2 PLUS terminology could not fully represent chiropractic practice, adding terms specific to chiropractic enabled coding of a large number of chiropractic encounters at the desired level. Further, the new system attempted to record the diversity among chiropractic encounters while enabling generalisation for reporting where required. COAST is ongoing, and as such, any further encounters received from chiropractors will enable addition and refinement of ICPC-2 PLUS (Chiro). More research is needed into the diagnosis/problem descriptions used by chiropractors.
Chiropractic; International classification of primary care; Classification; Clinical coding
There is little systematic operational guidance about how best to develop complex interventions to reduce the gap between practice and evidence. This article is one in a Series of articles documenting the development and use of the Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF) to advance the science of implementation research.
The intervention was developed considering three main components: theory, evidence, and practical issues. We used a four-step approach, consisting of guiding questions, to direct the choice of the most appropriate components of an implementation intervention: Who needs to do what, differently? Using a theoretical framework, which barriers and enablers need to be addressed? Which intervention components (behaviour change techniques and mode(s) of delivery) could overcome the modifiable barriers and enhance the enablers? And how can behaviour change be measured and understood?
A complex implementation intervention was designed that aimed to improve acute low back pain management in primary care. We used the TDF to identify the barriers and enablers to the uptake of evidence into practice and to guide the choice of intervention components. These components were then combined into a cohesive intervention. The intervention was delivered via two facilitated interactive small group workshops. We also produced a DVD to distribute to all participants in the intervention group. We chose outcome measures in order to assess the mediating mechanisms of behaviour change.
We have illustrated a four-step systematic method for developing an intervention designed to change clinical practice based on a theoretical framework. The method of development provides a systematic framework that could be used by others developing complex implementation interventions. While this framework should be iteratively adjusted and refined to suit other contexts and settings, we believe that the four-step process should be maintained as the primary framework to guide researchers through a comprehensive intervention development process.
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.
Recruitment of patients by health professionals is reported as one of the most challenging steps when undertaking studies in primary care settings. Numerous investigations of the barriers to patient recruitment in trials which recruit patients to receive an intervention have been published. However, we are not aware of any studies that have reported on the recruitment barriers as perceived by health professionals to recruiting patients into cluster randomised trials where patients do not directly receive an intervention. This particular subtype of cluster trial is commonly termed a professional-cluster trial. The aim of this study was to investigate factors that contributed to general practitioners recruitment of patients in a professional-cluster trial which evaluated the effectiveness of an intervention to increase general practitioners adherence to a clinical practice guideline for acute low-back pain.
General practitioners enrolled in the study were posted a questionnaire, consisting of quantitative items and an open-ended question, to assess possible reasons for poor patient recruitment. Descriptive statistics were used to summarise quantitative items and responses to the open-ended question were coded into categories.
Seventy-nine general practitioners completed at least one item (79/94 = 84%), representing 68 practices (85% practice response rate), and 44 provided a response to the open-ended question. General practitioners recalled inviting a median of two patients with acute low-back pain to participate in the trial over a seven-month period; they reported that they intended to recruit patients, but forgot to approach patients to participate; and they did not perceive that patients had a strong interest or disinterest in participating. Additional open-ended comments were generally consistent with the quantitative data.
A number of barriers to the recruitment of patients with acute low-back pain by general practitioners in a professional-cluster trial were identified. These barriers were similar to those that have been identified in the literature surrounding the recruitment of patients in individual patient randomised trials. To advance the evidence base for patient recruitment strategies in primary care settings, trialists undertaking professional-cluster trials need to develop and evaluate patient recruitment strategies that minimise the efforts required by practice staff to recruit patients, while also meeting privacy and ethical responsibilities and minimising the risk of selection bias.
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN012606000098538 (date registered 14/03/2006).
Chiropractic & Osteopathy changes its title to Chiropractic & Manual Therapies in January 2011. This change reflects the expanding base of submissions from clinical scientists interested in the discipline of manual therapy. It is also in accord with the findings of a review of the journal content and a joint venture between the original parent organisation the Chiropractic and Osteopathic College of Australasia and a new partner the European Academy of Chiropractic, which is a subsidiary body of the European Chiropractors' Union. The title change should encourage submissions from all professionals interested in manual therapy including chiropractors, osteopaths, physiotherapists, medical doctors and scientists interested in this field.
Variability between clinical practice guideline recommendations and actual clinical practice exists in many areas of health care. A 2004 systematic review examining the effectiveness of guideline implementation interventions concluded there was a lack of evidence to support decisions about effective interventions to promote the uptake of guidelines. Further, the review recommended the use of theory in the development of implementation interventions. A clinical practice guideline for the management of acute low-back pain has been developed in Australia (2003). Acute low-back pain is a common condition, has a high burden, and there is some indication of an evidence-practice gap in the allied health setting. This provides an opportunity to develop and test a theory-based implementation intervention which, if effective, may provide benefits for patients with this condition.
This study aims to estimate the effectiveness of a theory-based intervention to increase allied health practitioners' (physiotherapists and chiropractors in Victoria, Australia) compliance with a clinical practice guideline for acute non-specific low back pain (LBP), compared with providing practitioners with a printed copy of the guideline. Specifically, our primary objectives are to establish if the intervention is effective in reducing the percentage of acute non-specific LBP patients who are either referred for or receive an x-ray, and improving mean level of disability for patients three months post-onset of acute LBP.
The design of the study is a cluster randomised trial. Restricted randomisation was used to randomise 210 practices (clusters) to an intervention or control group. Practitioners in the control group received a printed copy of the guideline. Practitioners in the intervention group received a theory-based intervention developed to address prospectively identified barriers to practitioner compliance with the guideline. The intervention primarily consisted of an educational symposium. Patients aged 18 years or older who visit a participating practitioner for acute non-specific LBP of less than three months duration over a two-week data collection period, three months post the intervention symposia, are eligible for inclusion. Sample size calculations are based on recruiting between 15 to 40 patients per practice. Outcome assessors will be blinded to group allocation.
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12609001022257 (date registered 25th November 2009)
This editorial provides an overview of this Thematic Series of the journal titled Chiropractic Care for Children. In commissioning this series of articles we aimed to bring the busy clinician up to date with the current best evidence in key aspects of evaluation and management of chiropractic care for children. Individual articles address a chiropractic approach to the management of children, chiropractic care of musculoskeletal conditions in children and adolescents, chiropractic care of non-musculoskeletal conditions in children and adolescents, chiropractic care for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and possible adverse effects from chiropractic management of children. The final article by Charlotte Leboeuf-Yde and Lise Hestbæk is an overview of the current state of the evidence and future research opportunities for chiropractic care for children. We conclude this editorial discussing the strengths and weaknesses of contemporary research relevant to chiropractic care of children and the implications for chiropractic practice.
The one year prevalence of thoracic back pain has been estimated as 17% compared to 64% for neck pain and 67% for low back pain. At present only one randomised controlled trial has been performed assessing the efficacy of spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) for thoracic spine pain. In addition no high quality trials have been performed to test the efficacy and effectiveness of Graston Technique® (GT), a soft tissue massage therapy using hand-held stainless steel instruments. The objective of this trial is to determine the efficacy of SMT and GT compared to a placebo for the treatment of non specific thoracic spine pain.
Eighty four eligible people with non specific thoracic pain mid back pain of six weeks or more will be randomised to one of three groups, either SMT, GT, or a placebo (de-tuned ultrasound). Each group will receive up to 10 supervised treatment sessions at the Murdoch University Chiropractic student clinic over a 4-week period. Treatment outcomes will be measured at baseline, one week after their first treatment, upon completion of the 4-week intervention period and at three, six and twelve months post randomisation. Outcome measures will include the Oswestry Back Pain Disability Index and the Visual Analogue Scale (VAS). Intention to treat analysis will be utilised in the statistical analysis of any group treatment effects.
This trial was registered with the Australia and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry on the 7th February 2008. Trial number: ACTRN12608000070336
The recent development and publication of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) for acute low back pain (LBP) has resulted in evidence-based recommendations that, if implemented, have the potential to improve the quality and safety of care for acute LBP. While a strategy has been specified for dissemination of the CPG for acute LBP in Australia, there is no accompanying plan for active implementation. Evidence regarding the cost-effectiveness of active implementation of CPGs for acute LBP is sparse. The IMPLEMENT study will consider the incremental benefits and costs of progressing beyond development and dissemination to implementation.
Cost-effectiveness and cost-utility analyses alongside the IMPLEMENT cluster randomised controlled trial (CRCT) from a societal perspective to quantify the additional costs (savings) and health gains associated with a targeted implementation strategy as compared with access to the CPG via dissemination only.
The protocol provided here registers our intent to conduct an economic evaluation alongside the IMPLEMENT study, facilitates peer-review of proposed methods and provides a transparent statement of planned analyses.
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN012606000098538
Evidence generated from reliable research is not frequently implemented into clinical practice. Evidence-based clinical practice guidelines are a potential vehicle to achieve this. A recent systematic review of implementation strategies of guideline dissemination concluded that there was a lack of evidence regarding effective strategies to promote the uptake of guidelines. Recommendations from this review, and other studies, have suggested the use of interventions that are theoretically based because these may be more effective than those that are not. An evidence-based clinical practice guideline for the management of acute low back pain was recently developed in Australia. This provides an opportunity to develop and test a theory-based implementation intervention for a condition which is common, has a high burden, and for which there is an evidence-practice gap in the primary care setting.
This study aims to test the effectiveness of a theory-based intervention for implementing a clinical practice guideline for acute low back pain in general practice in Victoria, Australia. Specifically, our primary objectives are to establish if the intervention is effective in reducing the percentage of patients who are referred for a plain x-ray, and improving mean level of disability for patients three months post-consultation.
This study protocol describes the details of a cluster randomised controlled trial. Ninety-two general practices (clusters), which include at least one consenting general practitioner, will be randomised to an intervention or control arm using restricted randomisation. Patients aged 18 years or older who visit a participating practitioner for acute non-specific low back pain of less than three months duration will be eligible for inclusion. An average of twenty-five patients per general practice will be recruited, providing a total of 2,300 patient participants. General practitioners in the control arm will receive access to the guideline using the existing dissemination strategy. Practitioners in the intervention arm will be invited to participate in facilitated face-to-face workshops that have been underpinned by behavioural theory. Investigators (not involved in the delivery of the intervention), patients, outcome assessors and the study statistician will be blinded to group allocation.
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN012606000098538 (date registered 14/03/2006).
Cochrane systematic reviews aim to provide readers with the most up-to-date evidence on the effects of healthcare interventions. The policy of updating Cochrane reviews every two years consumes valuable time and resources and may not be appropriate for all reviews. The objective of this study was to examine the effect of updating Cochrane systematic reviews over a four year period.
This descriptive study examined all completed systematic reviews in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR) Issue 2, 1998. The latest version of each of these reviews was then identified in CDSR Issue 2, 2002 and changes in the review were described. For reviews that were updated within this time period and had additional studies, we determined whether their conclusion had changed and if there were factors that were predictive of this change.
A total of 377 complete reviews were published in CDSR Issue 2, 1998. In Issue 2, 2002, 14 of these reviews were withdrawn and one was split, leaving 362 reviews to examine for the purpose of this study. Of these reviews, 254 (70%) were updated. Of these updated reviews, 23 (9%) had a change in conclusion. Both an increase in precision and a change in statistical significance of the primary outcome were predictive of a change in conclusion of the review.
The concerns around a lack of updating for some reviews may not be justified considering the small proportion of updated reviews that resulted in a changed conclusion. A priority-setting approach to the updating of Cochrane systematic reviews may be more appropriate than a time-based approach. Updating all reviews as frequently as every two years may not be necessary, however some reviews may need to be updated more often than every two years.
Both chiropractic and osteopathy are over a century old. They are now regarded as complementary health professions. There is an imperative for both professions to research the principles and claims that underpin them, and the new journal Chiropractic & Osteopathy provides a scientific forum for the publication of such research.
This article is the second in a series of articles dealing with risk management in the practise of chiropractic and osteopathy, prepared by the COCA Risk Management Subcommittee.
Background: Radiographic examination carries risks that must be weighed against the possible benefits when determining patient care.
Objective: The objective of this article is to propose guidelines for the use of imaging in chiropractic and osteopathic practice.
Discussion: Plain film radiography, CT scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and other forms of imaging are available for use in chiropractic and osteopathic practice in Australia. The astute practitioner utilises these imaging procedures for clinical decision making in order to make an accurate diagnosis that will determine a patient’s management. This article attempts to guide the practitioner in the proper use of these imaging procedures for different regions of the body.
Chiropractic; risk management; osteopathy
Although rare, vertebrobasilar stroke is the best known of the possible side effects of cervical manipulation. Due to the serious sequelae that may result from cervical manipulation, chiropractors and osteopaths must take the appropriate steps to ensure the risk is minimised. This article outlines how the astute practitioner can minimise this risk. Practitioners must decide on the options for treatment of a patient with neck problems. Practitioners must also advise the patient of these options as part of an appropriate informed consent.
Chiropractic; stroke; manipulation
Systematic review; chiropractic; osteopathy
Clinical challenge; systematic review
Soft tissue techniques; chiropractic
Objective: To assess the attitudes of undergraduate chiropractic and osteopathic students at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) in 1992 on the education they are receiving and on the effectiveness of chiropractic and osteopathic care.
Design: Cross-sectional descriptive survey.
Participants: Undergraduate chiropractic and osteopathic students enrolled at RMIT School of Chiropractic and Osteopathy in 1992.
Results: This study surveyed 272 students, 196 who were chiropractic students and 76 who were osteopathic students from RMIT School of Chiropractic and Osteopathy in Melbourne, Australia. The students that responded represented 73.4% of chiropractic students and 85.4% of osteopathic students currently enrolled in their respective courses. Chiropractic and osteopathic students entered their respective courses from non-chiropractic/non-osteopathic families. More chiropractic students than osteopathic students (1.3:1.0) had their respective course as their first choice when applying for tertiary education. A majority (95.8 chiropractic students and 94.8% osteopathic students) of both groups surveyed were pleased with their choice of course. Students from both disciplines held considerable respect for each other in the care of certain conditions, but did not see the other profession’s care as effective as their own. A greater percentage of osteopathic students believed there was sufficient difference between chiropractic and osteopathy to justify two separate professions (57.6% compared to 97.2%).
Discussion: High quality education is a major aim in our schools and colleges. For this standard to be maintained it requires continual re-evaluation and assessment. Surveys such as this should be performed regularly as a method of evaluating student attitude and how these attitudes change during the course. This would also allow administrators to determine whether they are achieving their academic intentions. An immediate follow up survey asking the same questions is suggested to ascertain whether the same attitudes exist today.
Chiropractic; osteopathic medicine; education; students; attitude
Objective: To discuss a case of leptomenigeal disease mimicking a lower lumbar disc lesion and accompanying neurological deficit.
Clinical Features: A 62 year old male presented with a 3-4 day history of left low back and left posterior thigh pain. The patient had a previous history of non-specific low back pain for approximately 10-25 years, which was relieved in the past by manual therapy. He was also currently being treated by a medical oncologist with chemotherapy for low grade non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, which was considered stable.
Intervention and Outcome: After a favourable initial response to therapy, the patient developed a noticeable left-sided limp. Computed tomography scanning of the lumbar spine and pelvis was then performed, which revealed a mild posterior annular bulging of the intervertebral disc at the L4/5 level. The patient was then treated with axial lumbar spine traction but on review two days later had also developed a left sided facial droop, consistent with a Bell's palsy. A subsequent magnetic resonance imaging scan of the brain and lumbar spine revealed sites of abnormal enhancement of multiple cranial nerves, the cauda equina and the vertebral bodies L1 and L5. The findings were consistent with widespread leptomeningeal disease or leptomenigeal carcinomatosis and unfortunately the patient died as a direct consequence of the disease approximately three weeks after diagnosis.
Conclusion: Although relatively rare, leptomenigeal disease must considered as a differential diagnosis in a patient with a history of carcinoma who presents with low back pain and/or any neurological signs and symptoms.
Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma; leptomeningeal disease/carcinomatosis; radiculopathy; lumbar disc herniation; chiropractic; spinal manipulative therapy
Primary care practitioners are ideally situated to carry out health promotion activities. Neural tube defects are of a fairly low incidence, but the consequences are tragic. They range from life long physical and often intellectual disabilities, to death at birth. Increased folate intake, either through eating folate rich foods or through supplementation, has been shown to reduce the incidence of neural tube defects in newborns by up to 75%. Encouraging all women of child-bearing age to increase their folate intake could thus prevent a significant number of neural tube defects occurring in the Australian population.
Primary health care; neural tube defects; folate
This case report describes a relatively uncommon presentation of herpes zoster affecting the cutaneous distribution of the L2 spinal nerve. The coexistence of a previous history of leg pain, cortical thickening of the femoral shaft on plain film x-ray examination, and the absence, at the time of examination, of the tell tale rash of herpes zoster provided the clinician with a diagnostic challenge. Furthermore, this case stresses the importance of a thorough neurological and orthopaedic examination as well as careful visual inspection of the painful region.
Herpes zoster; spinal nerves; chiropractic; spinal manipulative therapy.