When the National Chiropractic Antitrust Committee (NCAC) was chartered over 15 years ago, its stated purpose, among others, was "improving working conditions for chiropractic" and taking whatever legal action necessary to stop any "restraint of trade against chiropractic." Under Article VI of the NCAC charter, the Antitrust Committee added that any "damages, awards from litigation will be divided equally between all existing chartered chiropractic colleges in America." This translates today to each of the 17 chiropractic colleges getting an equal share of the award settlement after expenses.
The plaintiffs agreed that they should not personally gain financially from the settlement; that the award should be used to the maximum benefit of the chiropractic profession.
The recent settlement of the chiropractic plaintiffs with the AMA could not have come at a better time in chiropractic's history. No one knew 15 years ago that there would be developments that would necessitate credible proof that chiropractic can correct more than low back pain. Today, there is a desperate need for controlled studies showing the effectiveness of chiropractic for headaches, asthma, and other somatovisceral ailments -- or this profession will be confined to musculoskeletal, if not low back pain. This will be brought on by federal mandates which affect ALL professions. This situation will be completely intolerable for chiropractic unless we can quickly get the necessary controlled, symptom-related outcome studies.
The plaintiffs and the NCAC made an appeal to all 17 chiropractic colleges to donate each of their award shares into ONE fund to be used for somatovisceral controlled symptom-related outcome studies. Ten of the chiropractic colleges initially agreed to this proposal, and an 11th college indicated it would follow suit. The other colleges, for varying reasons, chose to keep their share of the settlement for themselves.
The NCAC is a fiduciary of the settlement money and must abide by its charter, even if circumstances now indicate other avenues would better serve the profession. It must rely on the wisdom and unselfish dedication of the colleges to search their conscience and do what they feel is right. The NCAC can only recommend; the final decisions must come from the chiropractic colleges.
Chiropractic colleges still need economic support, but if we don't get these controlled studies started, everyone will lose: the students, the colleges, the patients and the entire profession. This is a life and death matter.
To date, 11 of the chiropractic colleges have chosen to contribute their share of the award to the Consortium for Chiropractic Research (CCR), with the condition that funds go to other than low back research, with special consideration to somatovisceral relationships. The colleges will also demand accountability for the money pooled under the direction of the Consortium.
The only way our profession can successfully fund appropriate research is by aggregating our funds and giving it to one research organization. Urge your college to contribute its share of the settlement to the Consortium. Individually, a 1/17th share of award is not enough money to obtain a qualified PhD within a university to conduct research. But collectively, there ARE enough funds to do the job. The eleven chiropractic colleges will be the heroes.
The following colleges have directed their funds to the Consortium for Chiropractic Research (CCR):
1. Cleveland College of Chiropractic, Kansas City, MO 2. Cleveland College of Chiropractic, Los Angeles, CA 3. Logan College of Chiropractic, Chesterfield, MO 4. Los Angeles College of Chiropractic, Whittier, CA 5. National College of Chiropractic, Lombard, IL 6. New York Chiropractic College, Seneca Falls, NY 7. Northwestern College of Chiropractic, Bloomington, MN 8. Palmer College of Chiropractic, Davenport, IA 9. Palmer College of Chiropractic West, Sunnyvale, CA 10. Texas College of Chiropractic, Pasadena, TX 11. Western States Chiropractic College, Portland, OR
The CCR has qualified research oriented PhDs to approach a major university and propose such a study. It is important that we have the needed trust and confidence of a prominent PhD within a major university to be willing to do the study. He or she will not do a study unless they feel confident that they are dealing with a respectable group. Universities do not do such studies, but PhDs within these universities do the studies; they won't attempt any study if they don't have trust in an organization approaching them. This kind of trust takes time and experience. The CCR does have these qualifications of trust and respect. For example, the major impact our profession felt after the world-renowned RAND study showed the "appropriateness" of chiropractic did not just happen by chance -- chiropractic made it happen through organizations like the CCR and the FCER. And the word in Washington is that when the RAND Corporation speaks, the legislators LISTEN. And by the way, so does the media.
Thanks to the 11 chiropractic colleges who chose to unselfishly donate their share to the CCR, we'll be able to walk into a university with the funding to do the job.
There is still a misconception within chiropractic that chiropractic colleges alone can provide the credible research this profession needs. The advantage of going to a university and using primarily nonmedical or nonchiropractic personnel is objectivity. It might be compared to having ex-coach Ditka of the hapless Chicago Bears invite the Dallas Cowboys or San Francisco 49ers to Soldier's Field, allowing the Bears to pick their own referees, and then watching the Bears win. Who would give any credibility to the game? In football they need independent referees; in chiropractic we need independent PhDs. And if we don't have enough confidence in chiropractic to do this, then we don't deserve the public's trust.
We have great news for the new year. Eleven colleges unselfishly chose to contribute to what promises to make a profound impact on the future of chiropractic. Perhaps other colleges will see the wisdom of joining and becoming a part of chiropractic's success.
If you are disappointed that your college did not support the research project, you may wish to contribute and support the Consortium for Chiropractic Research, Inc., 1095 Dunford Way, Sunnyvale, CA 94087-3765.
Chester A. Wilk, D.C.
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