Setting: A private practice of chiropractic in a provincial Australian city.
Methods: Practitioner review of independently selected patient records that contained a completed self-report by the patient of any perceived improvement against nominated plain-language indicators of wellbeing. Also counted were the number of patients reporting improvement against their presenting complaint and the self-reported size of any such improvement.
Results: For the measures of wellbeing the strongest mean frequency of response was 52.9% for improved walking and the weakest, 8.1% for breathing. Strong mean response frequencies were also found for sitting (49.7%), standing (46.7%), sleeping (46.4%), and improved wellbeing (43%). The frequency data for headache, neck pain, thoracic pain and low back pain do not suggest this cohort was atypical. Patients were able to self-report size of improvement against their presenting complaint, which suggests a capability to self-report improvement against wellbeing indicators.
Discussion: This preliminary report allows the suggestion that patients are able to identify with a variety of terms to describe their perceived changes in health status beyond those changes expected to be related to the presenting complaint. This is new knowledge in that it offers a variety of colloquial terms that may fit within a practice-based paradigm of wellness. The data also suggest the number of patients reporting improvement in several indicators of wellbeing is of sufficient size to warrant further investigation. The authors appreciate this work has a number of weaknesses, yet we report it in good faith as an example of critical thinking in chiropractic practice. After all, formal research has to have a beginning, but it is rare for the preliminary thinking to be reported as in this paper. We specifically state the data are indicative and non-inferential.
Conclusion: Patients presenting with a musculoskeletal complaint to one particular chiropractic clinic in an Australian provincial setting are able to offer a response to a number of subjective, practice-based or colloquial measures of wellbeing. The proportion of patients able to do this is substantial and worthy of further investigation.
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