Background: Non-specific neck pain represents a quarter of all chiropractic patient visits in Denmark. Evidence informed practice can help ensure providers use best available treatment, speed up patient recovery rate and reduce healthcare utilization. It is generally believed that Danish chiropractors treat according to best practice, but we do not know if this is true for management of neck-pain. The objective of this study was to investigate how Danish chiropractors treat patients with acute and chronic non-specific neck pain and determine if management is compliant with recent Canadian guideline recommendations.
Methods: An online survey was sent to 554 members of the Danish Chiropractic Association. A three-part questionnaire was administered asking participants to: 1) rank the frequency of use of a list of treatment modalities; 2) rank treatment modalities they normally use for acute and chronic non-specific neck pain cases; and 3) provide demographic data. Treatment modalities ranked as “used often” were considered in further analysis and compared to the Canadian Guideline recommendations for neck pain. Chi-squared test was used to investigate differences between treatment and guideline compliance for chronic and acute patients.
Results: A 65% (362/544) response rate was achieved. The sample demographics were representative of a recent Danish study of the entire chiropractic profession. Danish chiropractors use a wide range of treatment modalities, including spinal manipulation, manual therapy, exercises and information/patient education on most of their acute neck pain patients. The use of other treatment modalities and especially exercises was more commonly used with chronic cases. Guideline compliance was 10% for recommendations for acute patients and 43% for chronic patients.
Conclusions: Danish chiropractors use a wide range of treatment options for managing adult patients with acute and chronic non-specific neck-pain. However, there were important differences in treatments chiropractors offered for acute and chronic patients, particularly for the use of exercise therapy, which was mainly reserved for chronic patients. Danish chiropractors’ compliance with guidelines for neck-pain patients was low, but is neither worse nor better than what is seen for other complaints or health disciplines. Our findings suggest a need for active knowledge translation strategies and robust implementation research.
Author keywords: Chiropractic — Clinical practice guidelines — Neck-pain — Treatment; management
Author affiliations: Nordic Institute of Chiropractic and Clinical Biomechanics; McGill University. School of Physical and Occupational Therapy; Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières. Département Chiropratique; Queen’s University. School of Rehabilitation Therapy; Spine Centre of Southern Denmark; University of Southern Denmark. Institute of Regional Health Research
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