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Chiropractic Research Review

LBP Patients: Chiropractic More Satisfying than Medical Care

Three times as many patients with low back pain (LBP) visit medical doctors than chiropractors for treatment of their condition. Some studies indicate that chiropractic patients report greater satisfaction than those seeking medical care; however, other studies have not demonstrated this relationship.

To determine differences in patient satisfaction and communication with treatment provider between chiropractic and medical LBP patients, researchers focused on 672 members of a managed care organization in California.

Subjects, who suffered from LBP with or without leg pain, were randomized to one of four forms of care: medical; medical plus physical therapy; chiropractic; or chiropractic plus therapeutic modalities (e.g., electrical nerve stimulation). Satisfaction scores of 10-50 (50 indicating most satisfied) at four weeks were compared among treatment groups.

Mean satisfaction scores were higher for chiropractic patients than for medical patients (36.1 vs. 30.6, respectively). Chiropractic patients also indicated receiving more advice on self-care and better explanations of treatment. One-quarter as many patients assigned to medical treatment reported being given an explanation of treatment, compared to patients assigned to chiropractic care (16% vs. 61%).

LBP patients seeking chiropractic are more satisfied than those seeking general practitioner care. The authors conclude, "Differences in the amount of advice and explanation given by chiropractors and medical providers appear to explain much of the satisfaction gap often reported by chiropractic vs. medical patients."

Note: In an era when chiropractors are under increased pressure to spend less time with patients in order to make a living, studies such as this serve as good reminders of why patients find chiropractic care satisfying. Given the holistic philosophy of chiropractic, perhaps this doctor-patient relationship is a substantial part of the healing process.

Hertzman-Miller RP, Morgenstern H, et al. Comparing the satisfaction of low back pain patients randomized to receive medical or chiropractic care: Results from the UCLA Low-Back Pain Study. American Journal of Public Health 2002:92(10), pp. 1628-1633. www.ajph.org

Chiropractic Research Review

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