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Dynamic Chiropractic – March 15, 2014, Vol. 32, Issue 06

Putting Public Health Into Action: Thinking Globally, Acting Locally

By Rand Baird, DC, MPH, FICA, FICC

The Chiropractic Health Care section of the American Public Health Association (APHA) met at the 141st APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition in Boston late last year, and it was another triumph for chiropractic and its public health advocates.

The meeting theme was "Think Global, Act Local: Best Practices Around the World," which emphasized the importance of learning from our colleagues here and around the globe, and using these best practices to solve local problems.

The APHA program was a comprehensive collection of oral presentations, round-table workshops, poster sessions, films, learning institutes, panel discussions, network opportunities, a career mart, and information and giveaways in the expo hall – all designed to enhance knowledge and exchange information about public health science, practice and policy. A huge number of diversified topics was covered among the over 5,000 papers presented in the more than 1,000 scientific sessions. Overall, it was a tremendous platform for sharing science, discussing advocacy efforts, building partnerships and addressing emerging health issues.

A "Who's Who" of Public Health

thinking globally - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark The Opening General Session featured APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin MD, and three keynote speakers: Sarah Weddington, JD, who argued in Roe v Wade; internationally acclaimed epidemiologist Michael Marmot, PhD, one of the world's experts on the social determinants of health; and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino.

Many of the major leaders in government and health customarily attend the APHA's Annual Meeting, and 2013 was no exception. Among those present were former U.S. surgeons general; the health commissioners of several states; the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS); the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS); other officials from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO); the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH); various private institutes and voluntary agencies; several current and former elected state politicians and members of Congress; several college and university presidents, deans, program directors, and department heads; various international, federal, state, and local health officials; and other educators, authors, researchers, dignitaries, etc.

The chiropractic profession was well-represented at the APHA Annual Meeting. Two chiropractic college presidents attended: Dr. Joe Brimhall of Western States University and Dr. Clay McDonald of Logan College of Chiropractic / University Programs. With apologies to any individuals omitted below, other members of the chiropractic profession in attendance included Drs. John Hyland, Jonathon Egan, Claire Johnson, Bart Green, John Stites, Lisa Killinger, Mitch Haas, Lori Byrd, Michelle Maiers, Dana Madigan, Kim Khauv, Darcy Vavrek, Nicole Homb, Will Evans, Jason Bartlett, Karol Donaubauer, Michael Clay, Stephen Grand, Michael Ramcharan, Eric Roseen, Eric Hurwitz, Tolu Oyelowo, Kenice Morehouse, Joseph Pfeifer, Michael Haneline, Martha Kaeser, Shari Wynd, Peg Seron, Cyndy Long, Ryan Engelhardt, and Raheleh Khorsan.

These individuals and many other chiropractic leaders expertly represented the profession and helped facilitate one of the largest attendances ever at the CHC business meeting.

Chiropractic Program Details

The APHA program is always multidisciplinary and multimedia, with presentations consisting of scientific sessions, films, poster sessions, policy deliberations, technical exhibits, award presentations, and business meetings. Selected sessions were broadcast via live satellite and available in various formats.

For the 29th consecutive year, chiropractic was included among the 1,000 sessions of 4,000 scientific and technical paper presentations covering more than 30 specialty areas of health care. Five sessions were dedicated to chiropractic topics:

  • 3020.0: Prevention and public health in clinical practice
  • 3125.0: Population-based interdisciplinary approaches to osteoarthritis: from evidence to practice
  • 3226.0: Preventing injuries from the ground up: a multidisciplinary approach to fall prevention for older adults, translating research into policy and practice
  • 3338.0: Advances in musculoskeletal health: a focus on practice, prevention, safety, and cost
  • 3422.0: Public health, education, and research in integrative and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)

These five sessions were well-attended and quite well-received, featuring multidisciplinary audiences of 40-50 or more. The meeting rooms assigned in the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center were filled to capacity for some sessions.

APHA Heading to New Orleans

The 2014 Annual Meeting will be held in New Orleans Nov. 15-19, 2014. The theme of the 2014 meeting is: "Healthography: How Where You Live Affects Your Health And Wellbeing." This is certainly a theme compatible with chiropractic goals and values.

Greetings From the New CHC Chair – John K. Hyland, DC, MPH

As new chair of the Chiropractic Health Care section of the APHA, I have taken on the challenge of presenting the case for chiropractic care to the health care world at large. That means making sure all providers and policy-makers understand the value of chiropractic care in maintaining everyone's health.

You see, I have always believed that doctors of chiropractic already have a significant impact on the public's health in the U.S. But I also know we could do even more to help our society get healthy and stay healthy. We just need to be appropriately trained, encouraged and paid to do so!

We do have a few internal challenges, however. As a profession, we still aren't sure we have much cultural authority when it comes to discussing the poor health of the American public and then explaining our solutions, which have low costs and minimal side effects. And as health care practitioners, we often hesitate to take the lead in our communities when it comes to providing health education and wellness recommendations.

So, what can we do? I find it's easier than most of us think; we just need to tap into the underlying reasons our profession has withstood decades of opposition and political mischief. Our patients, our communities and our country all want to have the option of our care; they desire to be healthy and they need us desperately! We just need to keep up with the advances in health education, and implement effective health-promotion strategies with our patients and in our communities.

Hopefully, you remember the future projections provided by the consulting firm Institute for Alternative Futures a few years ago. [Read "Predicting the Future of Chiropractic" in the March 12, 2005 DC.] After much research and investigation, these experts envisioned three possible scenarios for our profession – a shrinking, outsider approach; a middle-of-the-road, hanging-in-there possibility; or growing acceptance of chiropractors as spinal and wellness experts.

[Note: The IAF recently released its latest report: "Chiropractic 2025: Divergent Futures." To access that report, click here.]

This third possibility was based on doctors of chiropractic becoming recognized as valuable health authorities; not just "back-crackers" or "subluxation-removers." This is the direction I believe we should be heading, and I have seen that the Chiropractic Health Care section is one of the leaders in this effort.

My goal for the four-year commitment I made to the CHC section (two years as chair, followed by two more as past chair) is to help move our profession further down this third pathway. We need to become recognized as a necessary and integral component of the public's health. To do that, I have resolved to do the following:

  • Get more chiropractic students and doctors of chiropractic involved in the CHC section.
  • Encourage participation and collaboration among the faculty who teach these concepts in the chiropractic colleges.
  • Facilitate and provide resources to practitioners in the field so they can better develop their cultural authority as the spinal and wellness experts in their communities.

Please join me in this effort. I encourage you to do whatever you can to build the reputation of chiropractic care as a fundamental and necessary component of the public's health. There are many ways you can assist in achieving these goals; I will leave the specifics up to each of you individually.

If you would like to tap into the support and resources of others who believe like you, please join the Chiropractic Health Care section of the APHA. We have lots to offer, and we appreciate your input! Contact me with any questions at .

For more information on joining the American Public Health Association and participating in APHA events through its Chiropractic Health Care section, visit the APHA website or contact CHC Membership Chair Dr. Kim Khau at .

Click here for previous articles by Rand Baird, DC, MPH, FICA, FICC.

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