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Dynamic Chiropractic – September 1, 1994, Vol. 12, Issue 18

Consumer Reports: An Analysis

By Chester Wilk, DC
I was looking at the front cover of Consumer Reports and its title, "Chiropractors--Do They Help? Do They Harm?" We chiropractors are a minority group in the true sense of the word. If we replaced the word "chiropractors" in the headline with that of another minority group, I wonder what would happen. I suspect there would be a national outcry; there would be lawsuits and the author and publication would be called bigoted, hateful, racist, sexist, or homophobic, take your pick. It appears as though it is "open season" on chiropractors, a minority group that is tougher on itself than any other I know. Our leaders have always taken the position that we need to earn respect and not bash people over the head and demand it.

The Consumer Reports title alone implies negativity. Where have their researchers been all these years, living in a cave? Haven't they heard of the AVMED report,1 the study done by Cassidy and Kirkaldy Willis,2 the workers' compensation studies in Utah,3 California and Oregon? What about the study done by Dr. Freitag of two Chicago orthopedic wards,4 the British government study,5 and Italian study,6 to name just a few. These studies were conspicuously absent from the article.

The so-called researchers at CU are either grossly incompetent or seem to have an axe to grind. This is wrong when they hold themselves out as independent researchers. When people consider buying a television, automobile, or some gizmo for their home or workshop, they need an objective and honest evaluation. If CU reflects either such incompetence or lack of proper balance, it should shake the public's trust and confidence in the credibility of this publication to provide an accurate evaluation of a product or service.

Consumer Reports survives because the public believes it can honestly and objectively get an accurate analysis of products or services. That is its "stock in trade;" if it loses that, it is finished. When the public trust is so grossly abused, as CR demonstrated by its evaluation of chiropractic, how much faith can the reader place in them doing a good job with any other product or service?

We need to take this message to every radio, television and newspaper and expose this fact. Consider: 1) It used an antiscientific group led by an individual who admitted before a government commission to using "lies and fraud ... which were deliberate and premeditated" to promote his ideas against chiropractic.7 2) Consumer Reports relied on the testimony of this antiscientific group called "orthopractors" with national membership in the double digits, while the national association of traditional chiropractic representing over 23,000 members were ignored. 3) Created an unsubstantiated fear of strokes from cervical manipulation, when the probability is extremely rare based on legitimate studies.8,9,10 4) Dwelled on exceptional cases of abuses in chiropractic which can be found in all professions.

And why did the Consumer Reports grossly misquote the chiropractic profession by saying that we treat ailments when we do not? We treat the patient for the ailment. This is not splitting hairs but is a legal description of what we actually do, and the limits or scope of chiropractic care, which is always a major issue, varies from one patient to another, from one ailment to another and from one time to another. This extremely vital fact was ignored. And why did CU refuse to be interviewed by Dynamic Chiropractic, the largest chiropractic publication in the world? Do they fear open dialogue? Isn't open and objective evaluation what this is all about? What have they to hide? These are facts that every radio, TV, newspaper, legislator, and chiropractic patient should be made aware of. If a publication holds itself out as something that is not, then everybody should be told the truth and CU should be exposed.

This brings up the need for getting as many qualified chiropractic communicators to accurately relate the chiropractic facts on radio and television programs, and in the newspapers. The object is to force these publications to behave more responsibly. Hit them where it hurts with facts appropriately presented and public trust for CU will naturally drop. When their subscription numbers drop they will get the message that they need to clean up their act or pay the price. And buy the way, this applies to the "20/20" program also. They relied on the same individual who admitted to lies and fraud. There will be many radio/TV programs, and newspapers that would not be shy about "exposing the exposers" for their shoddy practices. Once "20/20" becomes equated with the National Enquirer, their rating will also suffer.

It is amazing how greed, avarice and desire to control health care will make vested interest groups resort to outright dishonest and even fraudulent tactics. This coupled with overzealous sensational minded producers of TV shows, fans public confusion. We are the only ones who can set the record straight. We are not perfect, but the ratio of good we do in society is unrivaled by any other minority group or health care group. And that is the bottom line!


  1. Davis H. AVMED, Miami, FL 1982. (One of the largest HMOs in American sent a chiropractor 100 of its cases. Within that group were 12 cases recommending back surgery. All 12 were corrected saving AVMED hundreds of thousands of dollars.)


  2. Cassidy D, Willis K. University of Saskatchewan Medical Research Center, 1985. (A group of 171 medically unresponsive chronically ailing low-back sufferers for seven years had 87 percent results within 2-3 weeks under chiropractic care, and were re-evaluated and found to remain without pain one year later.)


  3. Jarvis K, Phillips R, Morris E. Workers' Compensation fund of Utah, 1991. (Study of 3,062 showed chiropractic outperformed medicine by a 10-1 margin in compensation costs). Wolf R. California Workers' Compensation Records, 1972. (Records show that chiropractic care brought patients back to work at half the time and cost of medical care). Martin R. Oregon workers' compensation records, 1971. (Showed another 2-1 advantage for chiropractic on work loss and compensation costs.)


  4. Freitag P. U.S. Federal Court testimony, May, 1987. (A patient comparison between JFK Hospital, which used chiropractic care in its orthopedic ward, and Lutheran General Hospital, which did not use chiropractic. JFK sent patients home well 7-9 days sooner than Luthern General.)


  5. Mead TW. British Medical Research Council, 1990. (A major 10- year government study showed chiropractic was more effective than medical care by as much as a 2-1 margin. Study used randomized control trials and scientifically accepted Oswestry scale for pain measurement.)


  6. Splendori F. Chiropractic therapeutic effectiveness-social importance, incidence on absence from work and hospitalization, Italy, 1988. (The Italian government surveyed 17,142 patients and found chiropractic reduced hospitalization by 87.6 percent and work loss by 75.5 percent. It used chiropractors within 22 medical clinics in cooperation with their universities, and had PhDs within these clinics act as independent observers of the result obtained.)


  7. Chiropractic in New Zealand. Report of the Commission of Inquiry, 1979, pp 12-14.


  8. Jaskoviak P. National College of Chiropractic, Lombard, Illinois. Between 1965 and 1980, five million cases of neck manipulations done at the college clinic were evaluated without one single isolated case of stroke following chiropractic adjustment).


  9. Eder and Tilscher. (Australian medical physicians specializing in manual medicine reported $168,000 neck manipulations over a period of 28 years without a single case of stroke.)


  10. Kleynhans. (Head of the Australian Chiropractic College, Melbourne, Australia, reviewed all of the medical literature in Australia from 1947 to 1978, and found 10 cases of death following stroke, nine of which were from medical manipulation.

Chester Wilk, DC
Chicago, Illinois

Click here for previous articles by Chester Wilk, DC.

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