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The Study: A systematic review comparing chiropractic care costs to other interventions for spine pain in the United States.
a. Spinal pain is both common and costly in the United States.
b. Of the cases seeking care, 61% see an MD or DO, 28% seek chiropractic care and 11% receive care from both an MD and a physical therapist.
c. Of those seeking chiropractic care, 68% are there for low back pain, 12% for neck pain and 6% for mid-back pain.
d. Just 3% of patients seeing MDs are there for spine pain.
e. Studies have indicated that patients are more satisfied with chiropractic care than care from a medical provider.
f. Chiropractic proponents have maintained that chiropractic care is more cost effective in managing spine pain than care from a medical physician.
g. Some reviews of the scientific literature have looked at chiropractic’s cost effectiveness but they “included a multitude of therapies and countries.”
h. This study reviewed studies on cost comparisons that looked at “chiropractic care of spine pain in the US.”
i. The authors found 25 studies that were in English and looked at chiropractic care for spinal pain in the United States.
j. Generally these studies indicated that chiropractic care was associated with lower costs in comparison to other health care providers. However, “the methods used in these studies differed widely, limiting their interpretation and generalizability.”
k. The authors suggest that studies utilizing more rigorous methods are needed to determine “if the differences in health care costs noted in these studies are attributable to the type of health care received” or are the result of other factors.
While there are studies indicating chiropractic care is more cost effective for treatment of spinal pain than the care of medical physicians, better studies are needed before it can be definitively said that the differences in the health care costs are due to the type of health care received.
I was under the impression that in general chiropractic care was more cost effective than medical care for spine pain. However, the authors have written a lengthy article that indicates more research is needed. I am hopeful that in a few years we can report on more definitive evidence in this area. Never underestimate the importance of costs in the health care arena.
Reviewer: Roger Coleman DC
Link to Abstract: Dagenais S, Brady O, Haldeman S, Manga P. A systematic review comparing the costs of chiropractic care to other interventions for spine pain in the United States. BMC Health Serv Res. 2015 Oct 19;15(1):474. doi: 10.1186/s12913-015-1140-
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