Research Beats Ranting
Aren’t you sick and tired of chiropractic being the best kept secret in health care?
What if you could do something to increase utilization, build your practice, and elevate the profile of our profession – all at the same time?
What is the main thing holding us back from assuming our rightful place in the healthcare landscape?
It’s no secret that chiropractic suffers from the lack of depth and breadth in the body of evidence that supports the wide-ranging benefits accrued to patients who improve the function of their nervous systems attained by correcting spinal misalignments. If there’s one thing that’s missing from chiropractic, it’s a body of research that is extensive and sufficiently credible to support the observations that those of us who are well trained to locate, analyze and correct vertebral subluxation see in our offices every day, from the first day of practice to the last, no matter how long we practice. We’ve all observed patients who have made remarkable recoveries and improvements after getting under chiropractic care and receiving adjustments. But, all those observations are merely anecdotal and discrete, meaning that they have not been adequately collected and catalogued to form a body of evidence supporting the benefits of chiropractic care.
Millions of people are utilizing chiropractic care as part of a lifestyle and we’ve never talked to them about why. What would it mean to our profession to have a widely credible body of evidence that clearly reflected the benefit chiropractic care provides our patients?
What if you could help advance this project and it only took you 1-2 hours of prep work and only 1-2 minutes per patient to do it? What if that project had the very real potential to take chiropractic utilization to a whole new level? One in which millions more people made chiropractic part of regular healthcare visits each year?
Watch the Video (or scroll down)
Take half an hour to watch the video below or scroll on down to see the simple steps you can take to get involved. Keep scrolling to read a narrative describing one of the largest chiropractic patient research projects in history. Hear more about the Lifetime Care Research Project from Dr. Stuart Hoffman, President of ChiroSecure Malpractice Insurance, interviewing Dr. Eric Plasker, author of the best-selling book, “100 Year Lifestyle,” and Dr. Stephanie Sullivan, director of the Life University Dr. Sid E. Williams Center for Chiropractic Research (CCR)
HOW TO BE A RESEARCH PARTNER PRACTITIONER
The Life University Dr. Sid E. Williams Center for Chiropractic Research and The Family Practice have combined forces to get this study out to as many chiropractors and patients as possible. Since both of these entities have chiropractors at the helm, they know how busy practitioners are. So, they’ve made everything as simple as possible.
Your participation will require one to two hours of prep time and perhaps one to two minutes per patient when asking them to participate in the survey.
Here’s the process, which is short and simple.
- Register online (less than 30 seconds) REGISTER HERE:https://form.jotform.us/70864058754162
- Take the National Institutes of Health Protecting Human Subjects Training
- Receive NIH Human Subjects Training certificate and press release
- Take the practitioner survey and sign informed consent
- Receive study execution training and implementation tools
- Schedule 10-minute training for you and your team
- Start registering patients
- Submit surveys (There are three ways for your patients to take the survey: paper, online in your office and online at home or on their cell phone)
What if you’ve never done research before?
No problem. Life U research associates will provide you with assistance all along the way. Once you register, you will receive an email from Life U research assistants with the link to the training, a pdf for the training material, and pre-training to make the most of your time by supporting you in successfully completing the training.
You’ll also receive a press release that you can share with local and social media. Let your community know that you’re part of a national research project being conducted by the research department of the largest institution of chiropractic education in the world. Dr. Plasker directs this entreaty to his colleagues: Take an hour or two to do the prep work. Let your current patients know that your practice is part of something bigger than you. Hang the certificate. Generate the buzz that this research deserves.
How did this study get started?
Whenever Dr. Plasker speaks to chiropractors he asks them a few simple questions: Are you under chiropractic care yourself? How long have you been under chiropractic care? Are you going to be utilizing care in the future as a regular part of your healthcare? What is the benefit to you? To your patients? Every time, for every question, nearly all the chiropractors raised their hands. Then he asks, “Why wouldn’t you want to know those same things about your patients?” and tells them, “You can find out. And, it will only cost you the time and congruency of the lifestyle you are already living.”
As a profession to date, we’ve surveyed backache patients about whether chiropractic care relieved their pain or improved function. We rarely asked longtime patients, in a systematic way, some very obvious questions:
- Why do you keep coming in for chiropractic care?
- How are you benefitting?
- Why are you paying out of pocket?
- Why do you value the care?
We need to know, from a research perspective, why and how lifetime patients utilize care and what drives them to stay under care.
Bringing the Research Up to Date
As Dr. Hoffman points out, informal surveys of his patients over the years have yielded results and statistics that are consistent and nearly unbelievable given what patients report about the benefits they’ve experienced and attribute to chiropractic care. Yet, that’s only one source and it’s not part of a well-designed study with a sufficiently large “n” or sample size for the results to be considered statistically significant.
Dr. Sullivan, whom both Drs. Hoffman and Plasker praise for her excellence as a researcher, goes on to share her excitement about a study that will bring scientific rigor to the chiropractic patient experience happening every day in thousands of practices around the country.
Dr. Plasker expresses his gratitude for the partnership with Dr. Sullivan, noting that it is more difficult for him to speak as a researcher, rather than in his usual role as a promoter and marketer of the amazing results he’s observed over the years in his practice. His enthusiasm is clear given the Longtime Patient Research Project could very well – and at long last – take chiropractic care past its historical rate of utilization.
According to Dr. Plasker, here’s the bottom line on the importance of this project: Research beats ranting. Research beats testimonials from individuals and single practices.
This project allows us all to work together to survey those who actually utilize chiropractic care rather than asking the general population, most of whom have never utilized care, about their opinions of chiropractic. Clearly, the results will be more powerful since they will reflect the experience of actual chiropractic patients.
Past Patient Research
Dr. Hoffman adds that the Palmer chiropractic system spent over a million dollars on a Gallup poll to ask questions to which we already knew the answers. However, it was still powerfully reinforcing to see the answers on a scale provided by such a large sample size. For instance, we saw scientifically collected evidence that reinforced our knowledge that people who have never been under care are most afraid of starting care based on fear of having their necks adjusted. As a result, it became more evident than ever, that in order to increase utilization by new patients, we must develop clear and effective communication that addresses and alleviates that fear and allows them to benefit from chiropractic care.
Dr. Hoffman goes on to add that, years ago, a similar finding came from a small sample size (about 100 long-term chiropractic patients) at Sloan-Kettering under Renaissance and researcher Ron Perrault doing genetic workups. In that study, indicators of patients’ health also ticked upward. Despite these remarkable findings, that study was not continued due to lack of funding and a lack of support from chiropractors. The Renaissance/Perrault study also provided anecdotal evidence that chiropractors need to do things differently this time around in order to document the role of chiropractic in health and longevity.
Dr. Plasker also shares the anecdotal evidence of three x-rays he uses in his practice, all of people the same age. The difference? One has never been under care, one has been under crisis care only, and the third has been under long-term wellness care. And the difference in what the x-rays show? Only the long-term patient shows appropriate curvature and little to no disc degeneration. Again, this is the kind of evidence that chiropractors have all seen and experienced. But, it’s time for them to do more: legitimate, yet easy, research that, if it reflects the evidence of both anecdotal and the initial pilot study, will strongly support the benefits of lifetime/long-term chiropractic care.
How impactful might the results of the current study be?
According to Dr. Hoffman, if they reflect those of the pilot study, the results of the current student will have an impact across the entire spectrum of our profession, political, reimbursement, utilization, and public relations.
As Dr. Sullivan points out, the Lifetime Chiropractic Patient Pilot Study was a critical first step to creating the large-scale study being launched now (and which you are being asked to participate). The pilot, which surveyed 112 patients across the spectrum (ranging from those new to chiropractic care to those under care for long periods), revealed something remarkable: Patients under longtime chiropractic care did not experience the decline in health that we typically associate with aging. In fact, Dr. Sullivan adds, these patients’ health indicators “slightly ticked upward.” That is a remarkable finding and, should it also be reflected in the larger study, the impact would be just as profession-changing and wide-ranging as Dr. Hoffman predicts.
It took about a dozen offices to produce the original 100 responses in the pilot study. Over 100 doctors have already signed up to participate in the larger study and it has only just begun the first stages of rollout. And, because of all the background preparation, the technology and collection methods have been perfected at this point.
How much documentation am I going to have to do?
Not much and it’s very simple. Participating doctors will only need to keep a patient log, which will basically be a sign-in sheet. Study numbers will be assigned from the log sheet to each patient, and the participating doctors will receive a study number during the study setup procedures. To protect patient identity, only the portion of the log sheet with the study numbers will be sent to the research department.
How are patients going to be surveyed?
There are three ways for your patients to get involved:
- Paper survey
- Online in your office (using an iPad/tablet)
- Online at home or on their phones
Leave the details to us.
Dr. Hoffman added that this is work that chiropractors should be doing anyway. Of course, you should be asking your patients what benefits they are accruing from the care you provide. Additionally, both Drs. Hoffman and Plasker emphasized that most chiropractors aren’t researchers so, they are not well equipped to conduct research that will stand up to scrutiny outside the profession. Further, both also emphasized that, with Dr. Sullivan and the Life U CCR conducting the research, participating chiropractors can be sure they are taking part in a well-designed and well-implemented study.
Even if you’re not motivated by the benefit this study can provide the profession, your participation could likely benefit you and your practice. Dr. Sullivan echoes the assertion that the study will provide chiropractors with benefits that they will see in their practices. Asking patients about the benefits they personally have experienced reinforces their reasons for staying under regular care. Showing patients that you are a study participant elevates their perception of you and your office from that of a lone entity to that of an engaged member of a larger healthcare profession.
Dr. Plasker thanks ChiroSecure, Life U, Family Practice, Dean Shepherd at the Chiropractic Society of Wisconsin, FCA, Virginia United Chiropractic Association, GCA, NC Chiropractic Association – everyone who’s been asked so far has been on board – so this study is even having a unifying effect within the profession. Dr. Plasker shares special thanks to Dr. Hoffman, for “having our backs and paving a path.”