Background: Not much is known about the French chiropractic profession on, for example, level of consensus on clinical issues.
Objectives: The first objective was to investigate if French chiropractors' management choices appeared reasonable for various neck problem scenarios. The second objective was to investigate if there was agreement between chiropractors on the patient management. The third objective was to see to which degree and at what stages chiropractors would consider to interact with other health-care practitioners, such as physiotherapists, general practitioners and specialists.
Method: A questionnaire was sent to a randomly selected sample of all French chiropractors known to the national chiropractic college. It consisted of an invitation to participate in the study, a brief case description, and drawings of five stages of how a case of neck pain gradually evolves into a brachial neuralgia to end up with a compromised spinal cord. Each stage offered five management choices. Participants were asked at what stages patients would be treated solely by the chiropractor and when patients would be referred out for second opinion or other care without chiropractic treatment, plus an open ended option, resulting in a "five-by-six" table. The percentages of respondents choosing the different management strategies were identified for the different scenarios and the 95% confidence intervals were calculated. There was a pre hoc agreement on when chiropractic care would or would not be suitable. Consensus was arbitrarily defined as "moderate" when 50- 69% of respondents agreed on the same management choice and as "excellent" when 70% or more provided the same answer. It was expected that inter professional contacts would be rare.
Results: The response rate was 53% out of 254 potential participants. The first two uncomplicated cases would generally have been treated by the chiropractors. As the patient worsened, the responses tended towards external assistance and for the most severe case, the majority of respondents would have referred the patient out. There was excellent consensus for the two extreme cases (the most benign and the most severe), moderate consensus for the cases next to these two and least agreement relating to the "middle" case. Inter-professional collaboration was contemplated mainly for the severe case.
Conclusion: The French chiropractors who participated in this study seem to have a similar approach to patients with neck pain that gradually develops into a brachialgia and worsens. However, it is not known if the large group of non-participants in the study would agree with this treatment strategy.
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