Study favours Team-Based Care for Back Pain
By Maria DiDanieli
Ont. – A recent pilot project shows quicker access to treatment and faster
diagnoses for low back pain patients when using chiropractors in teams with
Low back pain is a major health
issue in Ontario.
It affects 84 per cent of the working population at some point in their life
and is second only to the common cold as a cause of lost work time.
According to new research, Ontarians and physicians are open to new ways to deal
with back pain. Less than one in five Ontarians say their back pain is resolved
quickly and easily, with a majority being in favour of including chiropractors
in teams with family physicians for the management of their back pain – and
family physicians agree.
New research from the Ontario
Chiropractic Association (OCA) conducted by Environics Research Group shows the
vast majority (93 per cent) of family physicians frequently treat patients with
low back pain and more than half (55 per cent) find it challenging to treat
these patients on their own. Three-quarters (75 per cent) say they think
their patients suffering from low back pain could benefit from treatment
options offered by other healthcare professionals.
“Chronic low back pain patients are commonly
referred to orthopedic surgeons, even though about 90 per cent are not surgical
candidates. They are also often referred for unnecessary expensive
diagnostic services such as MRIs,” says Dr. Robert Haig, Chief Executive
Officer of the Ontario Chiropractic Association. “We believe that by
collaborating with family physicians to deliver evidence-informed low back pain
care, we can provide patient-centred, positive results for Ontarians.
This is why we pilot tested the Ministry of Health long Term Care funded
‘Consulting Chiropractor’ model of care.”
The OCA pilot project evaluated the
benefits of involving chiropractors in a primary care team-based setting, by
assessing patients with low back pain, and discussing treatment options with
the patient’s family physician.
Results of the pilot project showed
that a 30-minute assessment from a chiropractor resulted in a reduction in
requests for MRIs and referrals to surgical specialists as reported by the
participating family physicians. From the perspective of the
participating family physicians, a quick turnaround between them and the
chiropractor resulted in increased patient confidence in diagnosis and
Currently, Ontarians are seeking
treatment from a variety of healthcare providers for their back pain, such as
chiropractors, physiotherapists, specialist physicians and registered massage
therapists. Three quarters (74 per cent) think it would be a better use
of our healthcare dollars if professionals such as chiropractors were used more
in teams with family physicians.
“Across the province, family doctors
are starting work in innovative and collaborative ways with other healthcare
professionals. There is so much more that we can do when we work in teams”,
says Jan Kasperski, Chief Executive Officer of the Ontario College of Family
Physicians. “Back pain is a common problem that causes significant disability.
Better management of these patients by family doctors supported by the
expertise of various healthcare professionals such as chiropractors and
physiotherapists is a solution that will ensure Ontarians with back pain will
receive the best care possible.”
Collaboration is already happening
in a number of ways across the province, with over 74 per cent of family
physicians referring to chiropractors, and that number is increasing.
“The Drummond Report and the
Ministry’s own Action Plan make it clear that patient-centred, collaborative
care is the way of the future,” says Dr. Robert Haig. “We are encouraged
by this language, and the results of our recent studies demonstrate that this
is what Ontarians, and family physicians, want too.”
For more information about
chiropractic care or to find a chiropractor in your area, go to www.chiropractic.on.ca.