OBJECTIVES: This paper focuses on the methods of a single study, incorporating data from chiropractic clinics into an evidenced-based investigation of the appropriateness of manipulation for chronic back pain.
METHODS: A cluster sample of clinics (125) from 6 sites across the United States was chosen for this observation study. Patients with chronic low-back and neck pain were recruited using iPads, completed a series of online questionnaires, and gave permission for their patient records to be scanned. Patient records for a random sample were also obtained. The RAND staff and clinic personnel collected record data.
RESULTS: We obtained survey data from 2024 patients with chronic low back pain, chronic neck pain, or both. We obtained patient record data from 114 of 125 clinics. These included the records of 1475 of the individuals who had completed surveys (prospective sample), and a random sample of 2128 patients. Across 114 clinics, 22% of clinics had patient records that were fully electronic, 32% had paper files, and 46% used a combination. Of the 114 clinics, about 47% scanned the records themselves with training from RAND. We obtained a total of 3603 scanned records. The patient survey data were collected from June 2016 to February 2017, the provider surveys from June 2016 to March 2017, and the chart pull from April 2017 to December 2017.
CONCLUSIONS: Clinics can be successfully recruited for practice-based studies, and patients can be recruited using iPads. Obtaining patient records presents considerable challenges, and clinics varied in whether they had electronic files, nonelectronic records, or a mixture. Clinic staff can be trained to select and scan samples of charts to comply with randomization and data protection protocols in transferring records for research purposes.
Author keywords: Chiropractic, Pain, Surveys and Questionnaires, Chronic Pain, Low Back Pain, Neck Pain, Complementary Therapies
Author affiliations: IDC, GRA, MDW, LSK, POI, PWG, PMH: RAND Corporation, Health, Santa Monica, California. LGH: Deloitte Consulting, Los Angeles, California
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