I recently returned from the Association of Chiropractic Colleges’ annual Research Agenda Conference in Las Vegas. The theme was “Focus on integration: Chiropractic education and practice in integrative healthcare.” The opening session speaker was Rebecca S. Halstead, Brigadier General, (Ret), U.S. Army. Her lecture on how chiropractic changed her life set the stage for a conference that gave attendees a fresh look at how much chiropractic has progressed within the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration.
Another insightful session was moderated by Dr. Robert Mootz from the State of Washington Department of Labor and Industries. His participating panelists explained how chiropractic is being assimilated into the VA and DoD through DCs being granted hospital privileges and becoming part of the corporate healthcare team. His comments outlined tangible examples of how far chiropractic has come in terms of integration into the healthcare landscape. Once again, the message was reinforced that our widespread acceptance is contingent upon our presentation of data that is relevant to different groups and organizations. I have said for years that the future of chiropractic hinges on the quality of the research that we produce, which can move us ahead of other complementary and alternative healthcare disciplines.
I was fortunate to serve on a panel that was entitled “Challenges with Chiropractic Technique Research,” moderated by the editor of JMPT. The panel included representatives from several chiropractic colleges and other academic institutions, as well as Dr. Partap Khalsa, DC, PhD, of the National Institutes of Health. The takeaway from the 90-minute forum was that techniques need to be supported by quality research or they will not qualify for reimbursement within the insurance environment. Dr. Khalsa of NIH reiterated frequently that research funding is readily available, as long as the chiropractic profession submits grant proposals that are well written and pique the interest of the reviewers. He could not emphasize enough that working hard to submit qualified proposals is the key to securing funding. In fact, I was surprised to learn that NIH has granted over $40 million to the chiropractic profession in the last decade. Clearly, the organization is prepared to support chiropractic as long as the grant proposals warrant it.
The only part of RAC that I would like to see improved is the audience it attracts. Currently, the research community is primarily talking amongst itself. In the coming years, I think we need to work to attract field practitioners, so they may learn from the research experts and vice versa. I remember Dr. Scott Haldeman telling me once that over 80 percent of neurologists attend a scientific conference each year. That audience clearly recognizes the value of research. Conferences like RAC yield information that can make a difference in patient care, but only if field practitioners participate.
Overall, I left the 2011 RAC feeling inspired and excited about the strides we have made and the opportunities that are still available to us as a profession. I hope at next year’s conference we learn that chiropractic has been approved for more grant funding, and that our reach into the broader healthcare environment has expanded yet again. We have all the ingredients to make this happen – to borrow the words of the famous Nike campaign, we need to “just do it.”chiropractic’s effectiveness in:
- relieving low back pain and improving function in active duty service members;
- evaluating the effects of chiropractic treatment on reflexes and reaction times for Special Operations forces;
- determining the effect of chiropractic treatment on strength, balance and injury prevention for members of the Armed Forces with combat specialties; and
- assessing the impact of a chiropractic intervention on smoking cessation in military service members.
The Palmer Center for Chiropractic Research, headquartered on the Palmer College of Chiropractic campus in Davenport, Iowa, is the largest institutional chiropractic research effort in the world, promoting excellence and leadership in scientific research. The PCCR has the largest budget for research in a chiropractic college, receiving grants from the National Institutes of Health, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, and now the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program. Since 2000, these grant awards have totaled approximately $35 million.
Dr. Arlan Fuhr travels extensively to chiropractic seminars, conferences and events around the world. He will be providing his insights and perspectives from these visits as a regular guest commentator for The American Chiropractor. You can reach him at 602-445-4230 or email