Research and Public Perception

by Terry A. Rondberg, DC

The media constantly communicates to its vast audience the recent medical breakthroughs. Traditional medicine dominates our society. The recent medical mishaps such as dangerous prescription painkillers, are associated with the failures of regulators who ignore the apparent loopholes of allopathic medicine.

However, alternative health care is gaining attention. It is commonly utilized by the general population. A recent study by Hong at Ohio State University found that nearly three out of four adults over age 50 use some type of alternative medicine. Hong noted, “The most commonly used…was chiropractic, which about 43% of respondents had used.” [1]

Research and Public Perception - by Dr. Terry RondbergUnfortunately, the general public is unaware of chiropractic’s potential contribution to overall wellness.

According to the results of the World Federation of Chiropractic (WFC) survey titled, “Identity of the Chiropractic Profession,” only five percent of participating DCs believed the public considers that chiropractors are doctors who correct subluxations, while 81% believe the public defines chiropractic as doctors who help treat back and neck pain.” [2]

Eighty‑five percent of the chiropractors said the nervous system is essential to the practice of chiropractic, and 65% indicated the public should define chiropractic as stress and  subluxation correction.

In 2003, the Institute for Social Research at Ohio Northern University conducted a survey of  North American chiropractors.  The results showed that 89.8% of respondents felt adjustments should not be limited to musculoskeletal conditions and 88.1% felt that the term vertebral subluxation complex should be withheld. [3]

Some chiropractors have expressed that the public perception should identity the profession. Others wish to limit our role to musculoskeletal pain practitioners, justifying their position by claiming that only low back pain has sufficient research evidence and backing. Both sides are incorrect for reasons I have discussed elsewhere. [4,5]

A successful public relations approach should match the public’s interest with our vision of chiropractic. It is necessary for the public to be properly educated on how chiropractic meets their needs.

The success of this strategy came to light when Dr. Madeline Beherendt’s study on infertility was published in the Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research, (JVSR) which resulted in positive and credible media coverage for chiropractic.

Among the television programs reporting the study’s results were: KBCI Boise, WCBS New York, KING Seattle, KYW Philadelphia, WTNH New Haven, KUTV Salt Lake City, WCPO Cincinnati, WOAI San Antonio, KOLD Tucson, and KPTM Omaha. On one of the specialized health news wire services, the press release was accessed by journalists more than 700 times by the end of March. [6]

Furthermore, Dr. Erin Elster, an upper cervical chiropractor in Boulder, Colo., gathered data from 44 MS patients and 37 PD patients treated during the span of five years. After treating upper neck injuries in 81 patients, 91% of MS patients and 92% of PD patients improved, suggesting that correction of neck injuries may reverse MS and PD.

The Chiropractic Journal reported, “The World Chiropractic Alliance (WCA), publisher of JVSR, distributed a press release on the research results, which was quickly picked up by major news media, including Reuter’s wire service. The news was relayed to newspapers and television stations around the world, and the story showed up in a wide array of media.

“Viewers watching CNN coverage of the Florida hurricanes saw the headline scroll by on the late breaking news crawl … readers saw all the details in The Washington Post … Internet browsers found the story on sites as varied as the National Institutes of Health’s MEDLINE and the Armenian Medical Network. Yahoo News featured the story and it even appeared on the Merck pharmaceutical company’s website.

“Within days, millions of people were exposed to information about chiropractic and how correction of subluxations might result in an improvement or reversal MS and PD. Although the research examined the two specific diseases, the press release emphasized that the role of chiropractic was not to diagnose or treat those diseases directly, but to correct subluxations and, in doing so, affect the progress of the diseases.” [7]

More recently, a collaborative study of chiropractic care, oxidative stress, and DNA repair has peeked the interests of medical news services and alternative health websites. [8, 9]

The public and journalists are not interested in “manipulation” for the treatment of low back pain. However, they are interested in learning about chiropractic as a focal point on wellness and quality‑of‑life issues often neglected by traditional medicine.

The answer is university-based research and not just a few studies focusing on small case histories. Although encouraging, a long‑term solution must be implemented. The university based research, should involve thousands of patients, and published in prestigious, medical journals. The group QOLR has embodied this challenge but your assistance is paramount.

References

1. Hong G‑S: “About 70 percent of older adults use alternative medicine.” News release. Ohio State University . April 9, 2005.
2. “Consultation on Identity: Quantitative Research Findings.” World Federation of Chiropractic, Dec. 7, 2004.
3. McDonald W, Durkin K, Iseman S, et al: “How Chiropractors Think and Practice.” Institute for Social Research. Ohio Northern University. Ada , OH . 2003.
4. Kent C: “A challenge and three myths.” The Chiropractic Journal. September 2004.
5. Kent C: “Where are we going?” The Chiropractic Journal. August 1997.
6. “Infertility research still a top news story in U.S.” The Chiropractic Journal. May 2004.
7. JVSR, WCA hit two more publicity home runs. The Chiropractic Journal. October 2004.
8. “Chiropractic Influence on Oxidative Stress and DNA Repair.” Medical News Today. March 7, 2005.
9. “Doctors crack code on chiropractic care.” Mercola.com. 4/27/05.

About the Author – Dr. Terry Rondberg
Terry A. Rondberg, DC, is a tireless advocate for drug-free chiropractic, chiropractic patients, wellness, and the mind-body connection for physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. As CEO of the World Chiropractic Alliance, he is a global activist for the interests of doctors of chiropractic and their patients.

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