OBJECTIVE: Spinal manipulation is an efficacious therapy for some patients with low back pain (LBP). In this pilot study, we tested the feasibility of assessing the appropriateness of chiropractic spinal manipulation for patients with LBP.
METHODS: Criteria for the appropriate and inappropriate use of spinal manipulation for low back pain were developed using the RAND/UCLA appropriateness method. Two separate expert panels, one multidisciplinary and one all chiropractic, each rated a comprehensive array of clinical scenarios for appropriateness. A random sample of practicing chiropractors was selected, and data were collected from ten randomly selected office records from each participating clinician. Assessment of the appropriateness for the use of spinal manipulation was made by comparing the care delivered with the appropriateness criteria determined by each expert panel.
RESULTS: Eight of thirteen (62%) eligible chiropractors agreed to participate. For the remainder, by the multidisciplinary panel's criteria, 38% of care was appropriate and 26% of care was inappropriate. By the all-chiropractic panel's criteria, the same cases were judged 74% appropriate and 7% inappropriate. The two panel's appropriateness ratings were in agreement on 48% of all cases.
CONCLUSIONS: In this geographic area, the rate of appropriate care is between 38% and 74% and the rate of inappropriate care is between 7% and 19%, depending on the criteria used to assess appropriateness. Data from other geographic areas of the U.S. will be needed before inferences to a larger population may be drawn, and we have demonstrated that such a study is feasible.
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