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Government And Independent Research Studies On Chiropractic
Chiropractic is a natural method of health care that treats the causes of physical problems rather than just the symptoms. Chiropractic is based on a simple but powerful premise: With a healthy lifestyle and normally functioning nerves and spine, your body is better able to heal itself. That's because the spinal cord, which is protected by the spine, is the main pathway of your nervous system. It controls movement, feeling, and function throughout your body.
Doctors of Chiropractic have now become integral to the development of governmental guidelines for the treatment of back conditions in Canada and the U.S. In addition, many hospitals are extending privileges to chiropractors and referrals between medical doctors and chiropractors are becoming increasingly common.
Scientific research is showing what millions of chiropractic patients already know:
According to Lance Armstrong in his book "Every Second Counts": "The team wasn't just the riders. It was the mechanic, masseurs, chefs, soigneurs, and doctors. But the most important man on the team may have been our chiropractor…If you judged the most important man in the Postal team by the foot traffic in and out of the his door, then it was [the chiropractor]. Without him, we knew we'd never make it to Paris."
In recent years, numerous independent researchers and various government agencies have conducted studies which focus on the efficacy, appropriateness and cost-effectiveness of chiropractic treatment.
Several of these important studies are listed below:
THE MANGA REPORT - A major study to assess the most appropriate use of available health care resources was reported in 1993. This was an outcomes study funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health and conducted in hopes of sharing information about ways to reduce the incidence of work-related injuries and to address cost-effective ways to rehabilitate disabled and injured workers. The study was conducted by three health economists led by University of Ottawa Professor Pran Manga, Ph.D. The report of the study is commonly called the Manga Report. The Manga Report overwhelmingly supported the efficacy, safety, scientific validity, and cost-effectiveness of chiropractic for low-back pain. Additionally, it found that higher patient satisfaction levels were associated with chiropractic care than with medical treatment alternatives. "Evidence from Canada and other countries suggests potential savings of hundreds of millions annually," the Manga Report states. "The literature clearly and consistently shows that the major savings from chiropractic management come from fewer and lower costs of auxiliary services, fewer hospitalizations, and a highly significant reduction in chronic problems, as well as in levels and duration of disability.
THE NEW ZEALAND COMMISSION REPORT - A particularly significant study of chiropractic was conducted between 1978-1980 by the New Zealand Commission of Inquiry. In its 377-page report to the House of Representatives, the Commission called its study "probably the most comprehensive and detailed independent examination of chiropractic ever undertaken in any country." The Commission entered the inquiry with "the general impression ... shared by many in the community: that chiropractic was an unscientific cult, not to be compared with orthodox medical or paramedical services." By the end of the inquiry, the commission reported itself "irresistibly and with complete unanimity drawn to the conclusion that modern chiropractic is a soundly-based and valuable branch of health care in a specialized area..." Conclusions of the Commission's report, based on investigations in New Zealand, the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia, stated:
1990 BRITISH MEDICAL JOURNAL REPORT - A study conducted by T.W. Meade, a medical doctor, and reported in the June 2, 1990, British Medical Journal concluded after two years of patient monitoring, "for patients with low-back pain in whom manipulation is not contraindicated, chiropractic almost certainly confers worthwhile, long-term benefit in comparison with hospital outpatient management."
1985 UNIVERSITY OF SASKATCHEWAN STUDY
In 1985 the University of Saskatchewan conducted a study of 283 patients "who had not responded to previous conservative or operative treatment" and who were initially classified as totally disabled. The study revealed that "81% ... became symptom free or achieved a state of mild intermittent pain with no work restrictions" after daily spinal manipulations were administered.
THE AUSTRALIAN REPORT
In July of 1984 the Australian Federal Minister for Health asked their Medicare Benefits Review Committee to "consider requests for extending the scope of Medicare (government-funded health care) arrangements to provide benefits for certain paramedical services" - which included chiropractic services. The Committee recommended funding for chiropractic in hospitals and other public institutions, and stated:
"We are aware of the very considerable organizational and professional obstacles... orthodox practitioners and, indeed, some chiropractors may initially find the experience an uneasy one, but we consider the differences that currently exist to be unreasonable and efforts should be made to bridge the gap."
"... the continuing schism between the two professions does little to help improve the health of the many Australians who might benefit from a joint chiropractic/medical approach to their problems."
1. Second Report Medicare Benefits Review Committee. Thompson CJ. Commonwealth Government Printer, Canberra, Australia, Chapter 10 (Chiropractic) - June 1986.
THE SWEDEN REPORT
Up until the late 1980's, Sweden had no legislation regulating the practice of chiropractic, although there were approximately 100 chiropractors in Sweden educated in accredited chiropractic colleges. In 1987, a commission on Alternative Medicine in Sweden conducted a detailed investigation of chiropractic education. They had the scientific literature assessed by university medical faculty and additionally commissioned a demographic survey by Statistics Sweden. Subsequent to the report, the Swedish government passed legislation recognizing and regulating the chiropractic profession in Sweden. Then, together with the governments from Denmark, Finland and Norway, it established a school of chiropractic at the University of Odense in Denmark to provide a regional chiropractic college for students from those countries.
The reports findings included:
1. Ref 11 Supra.
VIRGINIA COST ASSESSMENT COMPARATIVE STUDY
A 1992 study conducted by L.G. Schifrin, Ph.D., provided an economic assessment of mandated health insurance coverage for chiropractic treatment within the Commonwealth of Virginia. As reported by the College of William and Mary, and the Medical College of Virginia, the study indicated that chiropractic provides effective therapeutic benefits at economical costs when compared to other medical treatments for common back problems. The report also recommended that chiropractic be a widely available form of health care.
U.S. GOVERNMENT AGENCY REPORT
A 1994 study published by the U.S. Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services endorses spinal manipulation for acute low back pain in adults in its Clinical Practice Guideline # 14. An independent multidisciplinary panel of private-sector clinicians and other experts convened and developed specific statements on appropriate health care of acute low back problems in adults. One statement cited, relief of discomfort (low back pain) can be accomplished most safely with spinal manipulation, and/or nonprescription medication.
RAND STUDY ON LOW-BACK PAIN
A four-phase study conducted in the early 1990s by RAND, one of America's most prestigious centers for research in public policy, science and technology, explored many indications of low-back pain. In the RAND studies, an expert panel of researchers, including medical doctors and doctors of chiropractic, found that:
chiropractors deliver a substantial amount of health care to the U.S. population.
spinal manipulation is of benefit to some patients with acute low-back pain.
The RAND reports marked the first time that representatives of the medical community went on record stating that spinal manipulation is an appropriate treatment for certain low-back pain conditions.
FLORIDA WORKERS' COMPENSATION STUDY
A 1988 study of 10,652 Florida workers' compensation cases was conducted by Steve Wolk, Ph.D. , and reported by the Foundation for Chiropractic Education and Research. It was concluded that "a claimant with a back-related injury, when initially treated by a chiropractor versus a medical doctor, is less likely to become temporarily disabled, or if disabled, remains disabled for a shorter period of time, almost twice as fast as those who received medical treatment; and claimants treated by medical doctors were hospitalized at a much higher rate than claimants treated by chiropractors." It also found that Chiropractic care was also less than half the cost of medical treatment.
WASHINGTON HMO STUDY
In 1989, a survey administered by Daniel C. Cherkin, Ph.D., and Frederick A. MacCornack, Ph.D., concluded that patients receiving care from health maintenance organizations (HMOs) within the state of Washington were three times as likely to report satisfaction with care from chiropractors as they were with care from other physicians. The patients were also more likely to believe that their chiropractor was concerned about them.
UTAH WORKERS' COMPENSATION STUDY
A workers' compensation study conducted in Utah by Kelly B. Jarvis, D.C., Reed B. Phillips, DC, Ph.D., and Elliot K. Morris, JD, MBA, compared the cost of chiropractic care to the costs of medical care for conditions with identical diagnostic codes. Results were reported in the August 1991 Journal of Occupational Medicine. The study indicated that costs were significantly higher for medical claims than for chiropractic claims; in addition, the number of work days lost was nearly ten times higher for those who received medical care instead of chiropractic care.
PATIENT DISABILITY COMPARISON
A 1992 article in the Journal of Family Practice reported a study by DC Cherkin, Ph.D., which compared patients of family physicians and of chiropractors. The article stated "the number of days of disability for patients seen by family physicians was significantly higher (mean 39.7) than for patients managed by chiropractors (mean 10.8)." A related editorial in the same issue referred to risks of complications from lumbar manipulation as being "very low."
OREGON WORKERS' COMPENSATION STUDY
A 1991 report on a workers' compensation study conducted in Oregon by Joanne Nyiendo, Ph.D., concluded that the median time loss days (per case) for comparable injuries was 9.0 for patients receiving treatment by a doctor of chiropractic and 11.5 for treatment by a medical doctor.
STANO COST COMPARISON STUDY
A study by Miron Stano, Ph.D., reported in the June 1993 Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics involved 395,641 patients with neuromusculoskeletal conditions. Results over a two-year period showed that patients who received chiropractic care incurred significantly lower health care costs than did patients treated solely by medical or osteopathic physicians.
SASKATCHEWAN CLINICAL RESEARCH
Following a 1993 study, researchers J. David Cassidy, DC, Haymo Thiel, DC, M.S., and W. Kirkaldy-Willis, M.D., of the Back Pain Clinic at the Royal University Hospital in Saskatchewan concluded that "the treatment of lumbar intervertebral disk herniation by side posture manipulation is both safe and effective."
WIGHT STUDY ON RECURRING HEADACHES
A 1978 study conducted by J.S. Wight, DC , and reported in the ACA Journal of Chiropractic, indicated that 74.6% of patients with recurring headaches, including migraines, were either cured or experienced reduced headache symptomatology after receiving chiropractic manipulation.
1991 GALLUP POLL
A 1991 demographic poll conducted by the Gallup Organization revealed that 90% of chiropractic patients felt their treatment was effective; more than 80% were satisfied with that treatment; and nearly 75% felt most of their expectations had been met during their chiropractic visits.
1992 AMERICA HEALTH POLICY REPORT
A 1992 review of data from over 2,000,000 users of chiropractic care in the U.S., reported in the Journal of American Health Policy, stated that "chiropractic users tend to have substantially lower total health care costs," and "chiropractic care reduces the use of both physician and hospital care."
LANDMARK LEGAL DECISION SUPPORTS CHIROPRACTIC
Further validation of chiropractic care evolved from an antitrust suit which was filed by four members of the chiropractic profession against the American Medical Association (AMA) and a number of other health care organizations in the U.S. (Wilk et al v. AMA et al, 1990). Following 11 years of litigation, a federal appellate court judge upheld a ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Susan Getzendanner that the AMA had engaged in a "lengthy, systematic, successful and unlawful boycott" designed to restrict cooperation between MDs and chiropractors in order to eliminate the profession of chiropractic as a competitor in the U.S. health care system. Judge Getzendanner rejected the AMA's patient care defense, and cited scientific studies which implied that "chiropractic care was twice as effective as medical care in relieving many painful conditions of the neck and back as well as related musculo-skeletal problems." Since the court's findings and conclusions were released, an increasing number of medical doctors, hospitals, and health care organizations in the U.S. have begun to include the services of chiropractors.
THE AHCPR GUIDELINES
A panel of doctors of medicine and other health professionals developed these federal guidelines in 1994 for the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research. Based on a review of current research, the study recommends treating acute low back problems with spinal manipulation by a trained professional.
THE MEADE STUDIES
The British Medical Journal published 2 studies comparing medical treatment to chiropractic care for low back pain. The 1990 study found that patients seen by doctors of chiropractic were better within 6 months and remained better over a 2-year period. In the 1995 study, improvement was 29% greater after 3 years of chiropractic care.
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I have been a patient of Dr. Pisarek for a few years now. Every morning I have to say "thank you Dr. P.!". Your care and your treatment renew my energy... no more pains in my lower back, knee and foot. With your help I lost 20 pounds and I am keeping it off. I am really grateful to you and your wife Hilda for taking care of me. My retirement got a new meaning, thanks to you.