Management of people with acute low-back pain

a survey of Australian chiropractors

Bruce F Walker, Simon D French, Matthew J Page, Denise A O'Connor, Joanne E McKenzie, Katherine Beringer, Kerry Murphy, Jenny L Keating, Susan Michie, Jillian Joy Francis, Sally E Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

Introduction
Chiropractors commonly provide care to people with acute low-back pain (LBP). The aim of this survey was to determine how chiropractors intend to support and manage people with acute LBP and if this management is in accordance with two recommendations from an Australian evidence-based acute LBP guideline. The two recommendations were directed at minimising the use of plain x-ray and encouraging the patient to stay active.

Methods
This is a cross sectional survey of chiropractors in Australia. This paper is part of the ALIGN study in which a targeted implementation strategy was developed to improve the management of acute LBP in a chiropractic setting. This implementation strategy was subsequently tested in a cluster randomised controlled trial. In this survey phase of the ALIGN study we approached a random sample of 880 chiropractors in three States of Australia. The mailed questionnaire consisted of five patient vignettes designed to represent people who would typically present to chiropractors with acute LBP. Four vignettes represented people who, according to the guideline, would not require a plain lumbar x-ray, and one vignette represented a person with a suspected vertebral fracture. Respondents were asked, for each vignette, to indicate which investigation(s) they would order, and which intervention(s) they would recommend or undertake.

Results
Of the 880 chiropractors approached, 137 were deemed ineligible to participate, mostly because they were not currently practising, or mail was returned to sender. We received completed questionnaires from 274 chiropractors (response rate of 37%). Male chiropractors made up 66% of respondents, 75% practised in an urban location and their mean number of years in practice was 15. Across the four vignettes where an x-ray was not indicated 68% (95% Confidence Intervals (CI): 64%, 71%) of chiropractors responded that they would order or take an x-ray. In addition 51% (95%CI: 47%, 56%) indicated they would give advice to stay active when it was indicated. For the vignette where a fracture was suspected, 95% (95% CI: 91%, 97%) of chiropractors would order an x-ray.

Conclusion
The intention of chiropractors surveyed in this study shows low adherence to two recommendations from an evidence-based guideline for acute LBP. Quality of care for these patients could be improved through effective implementation of evidence-based guidelines. Further research to find cost-effective methods to increase implementation is warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Article number29
JournalChiropractic & Manual Therapies
Volume19
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2011

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Low Back Pain
X-Rays
Guidelines
Confidence Intervals
Chiropractic
Quality of Health Care
Postal Service
Pain Management
Surveys and Questionnaires
Randomized Controlled Trials
Cross-Sectional Studies
Costs and Cost Analysis
Research

Cite this

Walker, B. F., French, S. D., Page, M. J., O'Connor, D. A., McKenzie, J. E., Beringer, K., ... Green, S. E. (2011). Management of people with acute low-back pain: a survey of Australian chiropractors. Chiropractic & Manual Therapies, 19, [29]. https://doi.org/10.1186/2045-709X-19-29

Management of people with acute low-back pain : a survey of Australian chiropractors. / Walker, Bruce F; French, Simon D; Page, Matthew J; O'Connor, Denise A; McKenzie, Joanne E; Beringer, Katherine; Murphy, Kerry; Keating, Jenny L; Michie, Susan; Francis, Jillian Joy; Green, Sally E.

In: Chiropractic & Manual Therapies, Vol. 19, 29, 15.12.2011.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Walker, BF, French, SD, Page, MJ, O'Connor, DA, McKenzie, JE, Beringer, K, Murphy, K, Keating, JL, Michie, S, Francis, JJ & Green, SE 2011, 'Management of people with acute low-back pain: a survey of Australian chiropractors', Chiropractic & Manual Therapies, vol. 19, 29. https://doi.org/10.1186/2045-709X-19-29
Walker, Bruce F ; French, Simon D ; Page, Matthew J ; O'Connor, Denise A ; McKenzie, Joanne E ; Beringer, Katherine ; Murphy, Kerry ; Keating, Jenny L ; Michie, Susan ; Francis, Jillian Joy ; Green, Sally E. / Management of people with acute low-back pain : a survey of Australian chiropractors. In: Chiropractic & Manual Therapies. 2011 ; Vol. 19.
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abstract = "Introduction Chiropractors commonly provide care to people with acute low-back pain (LBP). The aim of this survey was to determine how chiropractors intend to support and manage people with acute LBP and if this management is in accordance with two recommendations from an Australian evidence-based acute LBP guideline. The two recommendations were directed at minimising the use of plain x-ray and encouraging the patient to stay active. Methods This is a cross sectional survey of chiropractors in Australia. This paper is part of the ALIGN study in which a targeted implementation strategy was developed to improve the management of acute LBP in a chiropractic setting. This implementation strategy was subsequently tested in a cluster randomised controlled trial. In this survey phase of the ALIGN study we approached a random sample of 880 chiropractors in three States of Australia. The mailed questionnaire consisted of five patient vignettes designed to represent people who would typically present to chiropractors with acute LBP. Four vignettes represented people who, according to the guideline, would not require a plain lumbar x-ray, and one vignette represented a person with a suspected vertebral fracture. Respondents were asked, for each vignette, to indicate which investigation(s) they would order, and which intervention(s) they would recommend or undertake. Results Of the 880 chiropractors approached, 137 were deemed ineligible to participate, mostly because they were not currently practising, or mail was returned to sender. We received completed questionnaires from 274 chiropractors (response rate of 37{\%}). Male chiropractors made up 66{\%} of respondents, 75{\%} practised in an urban location and their mean number of years in practice was 15. Across the four vignettes where an x-ray was not indicated 68{\%} (95{\%} Confidence Intervals (CI): 64{\%}, 71{\%}) of chiropractors responded that they would order or take an x-ray. In addition 51{\%} (95{\%}CI: 47{\%}, 56{\%}) indicated they would give advice to stay active when it was indicated. For the vignette where a fracture was suspected, 95{\%} (95{\%} CI: 91{\%}, 97{\%}) of chiropractors would order an x-ray. Conclusion The intention of chiropractors surveyed in this study shows low adherence to two recommendations from an evidence-based guideline for acute LBP. Quality of care for these patients could be improved through effective implementation of evidence-based guidelines. Further research to find cost-effective methods to increase implementation is warranted.",
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AU - McKenzie, Joanne E

AU - Beringer, Katherine

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N2 - Introduction Chiropractors commonly provide care to people with acute low-back pain (LBP). The aim of this survey was to determine how chiropractors intend to support and manage people with acute LBP and if this management is in accordance with two recommendations from an Australian evidence-based acute LBP guideline. The two recommendations were directed at minimising the use of plain x-ray and encouraging the patient to stay active. Methods This is a cross sectional survey of chiropractors in Australia. This paper is part of the ALIGN study in which a targeted implementation strategy was developed to improve the management of acute LBP in a chiropractic setting. This implementation strategy was subsequently tested in a cluster randomised controlled trial. In this survey phase of the ALIGN study we approached a random sample of 880 chiropractors in three States of Australia. The mailed questionnaire consisted of five patient vignettes designed to represent people who would typically present to chiropractors with acute LBP. Four vignettes represented people who, according to the guideline, would not require a plain lumbar x-ray, and one vignette represented a person with a suspected vertebral fracture. Respondents were asked, for each vignette, to indicate which investigation(s) they would order, and which intervention(s) they would recommend or undertake. Results Of the 880 chiropractors approached, 137 were deemed ineligible to participate, mostly because they were not currently practising, or mail was returned to sender. We received completed questionnaires from 274 chiropractors (response rate of 37%). Male chiropractors made up 66% of respondents, 75% practised in an urban location and their mean number of years in practice was 15. Across the four vignettes where an x-ray was not indicated 68% (95% Confidence Intervals (CI): 64%, 71%) of chiropractors responded that they would order or take an x-ray. In addition 51% (95%CI: 47%, 56%) indicated they would give advice to stay active when it was indicated. For the vignette where a fracture was suspected, 95% (95% CI: 91%, 97%) of chiropractors would order an x-ray. Conclusion The intention of chiropractors surveyed in this study shows low adherence to two recommendations from an evidence-based guideline for acute LBP. Quality of care for these patients could be improved through effective implementation of evidence-based guidelines. Further research to find cost-effective methods to increase implementation is warranted.

AB - Introduction Chiropractors commonly provide care to people with acute low-back pain (LBP). The aim of this survey was to determine how chiropractors intend to support and manage people with acute LBP and if this management is in accordance with two recommendations from an Australian evidence-based acute LBP guideline. The two recommendations were directed at minimising the use of plain x-ray and encouraging the patient to stay active. Methods This is a cross sectional survey of chiropractors in Australia. This paper is part of the ALIGN study in which a targeted implementation strategy was developed to improve the management of acute LBP in a chiropractic setting. This implementation strategy was subsequently tested in a cluster randomised controlled trial. In this survey phase of the ALIGN study we approached a random sample of 880 chiropractors in three States of Australia. The mailed questionnaire consisted of five patient vignettes designed to represent people who would typically present to chiropractors with acute LBP. Four vignettes represented people who, according to the guideline, would not require a plain lumbar x-ray, and one vignette represented a person with a suspected vertebral fracture. Respondents were asked, for each vignette, to indicate which investigation(s) they would order, and which intervention(s) they would recommend or undertake. Results Of the 880 chiropractors approached, 137 were deemed ineligible to participate, mostly because they were not currently practising, or mail was returned to sender. We received completed questionnaires from 274 chiropractors (response rate of 37%). Male chiropractors made up 66% of respondents, 75% practised in an urban location and their mean number of years in practice was 15. Across the four vignettes where an x-ray was not indicated 68% (95% Confidence Intervals (CI): 64%, 71%) of chiropractors responded that they would order or take an x-ray. In addition 51% (95%CI: 47%, 56%) indicated they would give advice to stay active when it was indicated. For the vignette where a fracture was suspected, 95% (95% CI: 91%, 97%) of chiropractors would order an x-ray. Conclusion The intention of chiropractors surveyed in this study shows low adherence to two recommendations from an evidence-based guideline for acute LBP. Quality of care for these patients could be improved through effective implementation of evidence-based guidelines. Further research to find cost-effective methods to increase implementation is warranted.

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