One question posed is, will patients seek out chiropractors more if they increase their level of orthodox preventive health screenings and recommendations? Will a patient seek out a chiropractor for wellness any more than they would an allopathic health care provider? Clearly, in light of the inconclusive research evidence base on chiropractic alternative techniques, a balanced approach to wellness, inclusive of both normative public health promotion objectives as well as a reasonable approach to offering chiropractic alternative methods, should remain within the realm of discussion.
The study’s specific goal was to find out what proportion of chiropractic patients seek wellness care when the practitioner incorporates an alternative model of accomplishing wellness beyond moving joints. An attempt to determine whether a specific cohort of sacro occipital technique (SOT) practitioners that utilize a broad palate of methods would have a similar or dissimilar proportion of patients operating under health beliefs that proactively sought care prior to focused complaint manifestation.
METHODS: A convenience sample of chiropractors, interested in participating in research, was asked to add a question regarding patient health preferences to their standard patient intake forms. This convenience sample was comprised of SOT practitioners from three geographic locations, United States, Australia, and Europe, who agreed to participate in this pilot study.
RESULTS: The most interesting finding is the variable of Health Behavior where 42.1% percent of patients presented to these chiropractor’s offices without a specific focused complaint. These patients either presented for wellness, prevention of illness or perceived they were at risk for injury.
DISCUSSION: Definitions of wellness argue for a more comprehensive paradigm for patient illness such as that described by the biopsychosocial model, which incorporates psychological and social components to health in addition to the biologic domain. When the patient has not been unduly coerced or pressured to accept prophylactic chiropractic care but elects freely to utilize this type of care secondary to direct experience, then who is to say that this should not be allowed? How will patients even have this choice if one takes a hard line on an evidence-demand approach to this and all other alternative treatments available today, including medical treatments that have no efficacy data?
This pilot study evaluated patient health preferences as part of the normal patient self-reported history. An increased proportion of patients, relative to other studies, were identified as presenting for a category of wellness care. Although great care must be exercised in making generalizations from this set of data, clearly, increases in patient’s preferences for wellness care could be related, quite simply to whether the chiropractor is perceived by the patient to offer a mode of wellness care other than counseling for obesity or smoking cessation. Hopefully greater study into the field of health behavior preferences and chiropractic will continue and greater insight will be garnered that will help chiropractors serve their patient’s needs.
This abstract is reproduced with the permission of the publisher.