After reading the Consumer Reports article on chiropractic, we asked the author, Assistant Editor Rochelle Green, for an interview.That request was refused. Could we interview the editor? That request was refused. "DC" was told to submit questions: that we did. Our questions:
- Does Consumer's Union receive any federal funding?
- What was the involvement of the National Association for Chiropractic Medicine in the article?
- How did a Consumer Reports article on chiropractic become an endorsement for the NACM, especially considering their lack of membership (estimated in the hundreds)?
- What was the involvement of the Orthopractic Manipulation Society (OMS) in the writing of this article?
- What role did Murray Katz, MD, play in this article?
- Why did you recommend the NACM? What do you really know about them? How many members do they have? Why is their membership list kept secret? Who are their officers and directors?
- You also recommended the OMS. How many members do they have? Who are their officers and directors?
- How is it that an organization like the NACM which has gone 10 years without significant membership growth, can suddenly change their name to Orthopractic and then get Consumer Reports to recruit both members and raise public awareness?
- Why did you recommend Dr. Murray Katz's organization and provide his address? Why didn't you mention his name? Is it because you were shielding him as a consultant to your article? Is this standard policy?
- Was Consumer Reports aware of the New Zealand Commission's findings on Dr. Murray Katz, the main force behind the OMS?
- Are you aware that the New Zealand Commission found that "he has allowed his enthusiasm to override his judgment, his sense of reality and his sense of what is proper." That they were "abundantly satisfied that it would be quite unsafe to rely on his opinions, or on any of his evidence on matters of fact which were not completely verified from an independent and reliable source."?
In its findings, the New Zealand Commissions also stated:
"We would add this. Dr. Katz told us that he believed he had been instrumental in influencing the views of Mr. Joseph R. Botta, who is the executive director of the United States Consumers Union, and that the union's report on chiropractic (see chapter 21) contained in the September and October 1975 issues of its magazine had been materially influenced by Dr. Katz views."Would you please comment?
- Dr. Katz has been involved in an aggressive, out-spoken war against chiropractic for more than 20 years. It appears that Consumer Reports is acting as a tool for Dr. Katz in that longstanding war against chiropractic. Would you again comment?
- How is it that in March of this year, the OMS and NACM apparently knew of the contents of this Consumer Reports article and included it as part of their action plan?
- Is Consumer Reports open to publishing an opposing view from a responsible party, or will the opinions of Dr. Katz, a well-known enemy of chiropractic, prevail?
- Where can DCs send comments? Can they fax them to Consumer Reports?
Consumer Reports did not respond to each of the questions, instead they faxed us the following letter:
June 3, 1994
Mr. Donald Petersen Jr.
Dear Mr. Petersen:
The article on chiropractors in the June issue of Consumer Reports is the third of a three-part series on alternative medicine, which also examined acupuncture and homeopathy. The intent of all three articles was to investigate controversial issues affecting public health, and to offer guidance to readers who were interested in seeking health care from practitioners in those particular fields.
The probe into chiropractic took place over more than three months, during which time our reporter gathered materials, information, and opinions from sources representing all sides of the debate. Much of the written material, which ultimately filled three large boxes, came from individual chiropractors and form the major chiropractic organizations, including the American Chiropractic Association and the International Chiropractic Association. Additional material came from library searches and from sources critical of chiropractic. All of these materials were read and considered in the preparation of the article. Additionally, out reporter conducted more than 30 lengthy interviews with individuals from many backgrounds and perspectives, including spokespersons from each of the the major chiropractic organizations, chiropractors involved in research and academia, and medical researchers and practitioners.
The views expressed in the final article are based solely on our independent, unbiased journalistic judgment. All recommendations in the article have been reviewed by the editorial staff and are those of Consumers Union alone. No individual or group exerted any influence on our report.
As in previous reports on health issues, we stressed the importance of using sound scientific evidence to sort through controversial and conflicting claims. We believe the scientific evidence supports the use of spinal manipulation in the treatment of neuromusculoskeletal conditions, particularly low back pain. We do not believe there is sufficient evidence for using spinal manipulation to treat infectious diseases, systemic disorders, or postural disorders in children. Nor do we see evidence to support the chiropractic theory that spinal health is essential to overall good health.
In keeping with these views, we recommend that readers interested in chiropractic care seek out practitioners who limit their practice to neuromusculoskeletal conditions. As a useful resource, we listed in our article two organizations whose members pledge to so limit their practice: the National Association for Chiropractic Medicine and the Orthopractic Manipulation Society International, both of which maintain referral lists. We recognize that some chiropractors who don't belong to these organizations may follow similar guidelines. The list of questions posed at the end of our article was intended to enable patients to identify chiropractors adhering to those principles.
Consumer Reports does not authorize and actively discourages the use of our name for any advertising or commercial purpose. It has come to our attention that the Orthopractic Manipulation Society International is encouraging its members to cite our article on chiropractic in ad copy. We have not authorized this, and have asked the Society to advise its members of our "no commercialization" policy.
We welcome letters from anyone who has read our article on chiropractic and wishes to comment on it. Letters should be sent to Consumer Reports, P.O. Box 2015 Yonkers, NY 10703-9015. While we will publish a selection of letters on chiropractors, please note that constraints on staff time prevent us from responding individually.
The Editors of Consumer Reports
With so many questions left unanswered, DCs are left to draw their own conclusions. Keeping in mind that the letter you send to Consumer Reports my be printed (if short) or excerpted, it is important to state all issues and facts in a cogent and concise manner. It may even require you to write two letters: the one you would like to send, and the one that represents your issues and your profession without the emotions this article has undoubtedly engendered.