Episode #30

Integrating Chiropractors – What’s It Going To TakeIntegrating Chiropractors

Today we’re going to talk about what the medical field may be looking for when integrating chiropractors into their referral network. We’ll also talk about a recent article discussing The Lancet papers and whether or not the Chiropractic profession needs to take more care…..or care at all for that matter. 

But first, here’s that bumper music

OK, we are back. Welcome to the podcast today, I’m Dr. Jeff Williams and I’m your host for the Chiropractic Forward podcast.  

Before we get started, it was brought to my attention by Dr. Ryan Doss out in Lubbock, TX that our Chiropractic Froward episodes in iTunes only go back to Episode 18 or 19 right now. This is a new development that I’m not sure exactly how to fix or what to do about it at this time but, I am trying to figure it out. For now, though, you can go to our website at www.chiropracticforward.com and have access to all of the directly right there. All of them in one place.  

I want to ask you to go to chiropracticforward.com and sign up for our newsletter. It makes it easier to let you know when the newest episode goes live and it’s just nice of you and helps me notify when a new episode is up and ready for you. 

I’m always offering myself up for speaking opportunities or to be a guest on YOUR podcast or at your seminar.  Just send me an email at dr.williams@chiropracticforward.com and we will connect.

I have to tell you that I have recently joined the Facebook group called Forward Thinking Chiropractic Alliance led by Dr. Bobby Maybee who also hosts the Forward Thinking Chiropractic Podcast and I have been a member of the Evidence-Based Chiropractic group over there on Facebook for a while now. That one is led by Dr. Marc Broussard and has several highly respected admins. 

First, I host the Chiropractic Forward podcast and Bobby Maybee hosts the Forward Thinking Chiropractic podcast. Those sound similar right? And….to be fair…in regards to focusing on researched information and draggin’ chiropractic further into the evidence-based realm, we are very similar. OF course, we have different deliveries and Forward Thinking Chiropractic Alliance has been around longer than we have. Integrating chiropractors is a common topic. 

When I was trying to figure out what to name my podcast, I somehow came up with Chiropractic Forward. I Googled it and nothing showed up for Chiropractic Forward and I was so excited and ran with it. It wasn’t until a few months later that I stumbled on Forward Thinking Chiropractic and thought, well hell…. But, though there are similarities in the names, I do my thing and Bobby and his crew do theirs and they are very successful and good at what they are doing. In the end, I hope we are both extremely healthy for chiropractors everywhere a podcast can be heard. 

There is also Dr. Jeff Langmaid known as the Evidence-Based Chiropractor. Jeff has built an amazing brand talking about many of the things we talk about here and he does a great job with it. He’s a great speaker. Clear, concise, and easy to understand. 

So, outside of myself and the Chiropractic Forward Podcast, I hope you will give Dr. Bobby Maybee and the Forward Thinking Chiropractic Podcast a listen as well as Dr. Jeff Langmaid and the Evidence-based Chiropractor Podcast. They are excellent resources for further learning and understanding on all of this stuff. Again, integrating chiropractors is a common topic and you know I love that topic!

The Facebook groups I mentioned are simply priceless when it comes to being an evidence-based chiropractor.

I’ve found myself from time to time feeling a little uncomfortable and surrounded by ideas and philosophies within our profession that I just never got behind or could support. I’ve had to sit through countless speeches that made my eyes roll with disbelief. The Evidence-Based Chiropractic group and the Forward Thinking Chiropractic Alliance groups on Facebook are groups that fit me like a glove. As I said, integrating chiropractors is a topic I’m on board with. I’m not super active in there but really do enjoy reading the threads, opinions, and yes….even some light arguing here and there. But, these groups are very educational and an absolute must if you are evidence-based. 

We have a Chiropractic Forward group as well on Facebook but it’s new and just now getting going. I’d love to invite you all over there to join up with us as well as like our Facebook page itself and maybe even check us out on Twitter at chiro_forward. 

Hey, I’m doing my part to get the word out. You can rest assured on that. 

Enough social media talk, here we go with some vital information that we think can build confidence and improve your practice which will improve your life overall. That’s a tall order but that is the goal and I’ve never shy-ed away from big goals. You shouldn’t either!

You have collapsed into Episode #30. I can’t believe I started this journey 30 weeks ago. It’s crazy to think. I really can’t tell you how much I have enjoyed it so far. I suppose it takes some amount of hubris to think anyone would care about what you have to say but, in the end, don’t you just have to go where you’re led? That’s what I’m doing and I’m glad you’re coming along with me each week.

We have talked a lot in previous episodes about integrating chiropractors. Whether that means integrating chiropractors into a hospital setting, bringing medical services into your clinic, or some sort of co-treatment/referral sort of set up between the chiropractor and other medical professionals. Regardless, integrating chiropractors is the next step for our profession. 

On that note, let’s start with the article about The Lancet papers on low back pain. This was in Chiropractic & Manual Therapies and Published June 25, 2018. Brand new stuff here folks. This was written by Simon French, et. al. and titled “Low back pain: a major global problem for which the chiropractic profession needs to take more care(French S 2018).” 

The abstract on this article introduces the series of papers published in The Lancet back in March of 2018 which provided the global community with a comprehensive description of low back pain, treatment recommendations based on research, and low back pain going forward from where we are currently. 

They go on to mention what we have been saying over and over here on the podcast. And that is that chiropractic is poised to step in and run the show for non-complicated low back pain. But, according to the authors and according to the Chiropractic Forward podcast, many chiropractors make statements and do things that aren’t supported by robust, contemporary evidence. 

We went through the Lancet papers here on the podcast and you can listen to them by going back to episodes 16, 17, and 18. I encourage you to do so. There really is some excellent information from a multidisciplinary panel of low back pain experts around the world. 

The authors of the Lancet papers, if you follow them on Twitter, have said repeatedly that they don’t want this paper to be profession specific. Meaning, they don’t want to come right out and say, “Hey folks, chiropractors should be the first referral or, we recommend PTs take any and all low back pain patients first and then deal them out where needed for more treatment.” 

I think that’s probably smart on their part but, as a chiropractic advocate, I have no problem throwing our hat in the ring and saying that research has proven several times over that spinal manipulation is superior to the mobilization that PTs perform AND less expensive. If chiropractors are less expensive and more effective, then why in the Hell WOULDN’T we be the first referral for these low back pain patients? Integrating chiropractors makes more sense now than ever before.

This paper goes on to mention that there has been a shift in thinking on low back pain in recent years from the traditional medical approach to a more patient-centered, evidence-based, non-pharma approach putting chiropractors right where they always should have been. 

They also talk about how The Lancet papers say that imaging needs to be reduced significantly. Wouldn’t you agree that may be a challenge for the way many chiropractors practice? You know who you are out there! They also discuss how evidence doesn’t support ongoing passive chiropractic care. This will also be an obstacle for many in my profession. In addition, they state that many chiropractors implement therapy modalities that simply have little to zero good evidence supporting them. 

French says chiropractors are in the right placed but not enough of us are actively involved in research and our research output is small when compared to other healthcare professions. Integrating chiropractors into the medical field will require more research production from our profession that we currently see. 

He also says that the chiropractic profession needs to be more integrated to be a major player if we are to be able to fulfill the role The Lancet papers put us in. And I agree wholeheartedly. If you check out episode #20 called Chiropractic Evolution or Extinction, you’ll hear a robust discussion on this. 

CF 020: Chiropractic Evolution or Extinction?


French’s conclusion highlights the reason the Chiropractic Forward podcast exists. It puts a spotlight right on the purpose if you listen close enough. 

He wraps up the article by saying the following: “Our low back pain “call to action” for the chiropractic profession is to get our house in order. In our opinion, nothing is more relevant to chiropractors than people with low back pain, and the evidence clearly shows that we can do a better job for the millions of people who experience this potentially debilitating condition every year. Chiropractors in clinical practice need to provide higher quality care in line with recommendations from evidence-based clinical practice guidelines.

The chiropractic profession is perfectly placed to be a major player in providing a part of the solution to the global challenge of low back pain. But the profession has been shut out of this role in most countries around the world due to, amongst many other things, internal political conflict, a lack of political will, and a minority of chiropractors who provide non-evidence-based approaches. The profession needs to invest heavily to support chiropractors who wish to undertake high-quality research directed at solving this major global problem.”

Amen amen amen. I’ve always wished I knew more about running my own research projects. It’s just not something we were taught. I’m looking at maybe searching out a mentor to help me get my own projects going…..maybe just case reports but something…. and get them published. Although the idea of generating my own research projects makes me want to punch myself in the nose, I know it’s important towards integrating chiropractors.

OK, let’s shift gears a bit. If we are poised and ready for integrating chiropractors and we start following evidence-based protocols, that’s all fine and dandy and moving in the right direction. However, what if there are already perceptions out there in the medical field we’ll be needing to change? I said what it? I meant, of course, there are negative perceptions of us that will have to be battled. It’s a fact. 

Here is a paper from June 22, 2018, by Stacie Salsbury, et. al. called “Be good, communicate, and collaborate: a qualitative analysis of stakeholder perspectives on adding a chiropractor to the multidisciplinary rehabilitation team(Salsbury S).” It would have been more fun if Salsbury would have just titled it “Stop, collaborate and listen if you want to be a good chiropractic physician….. but……she didn’t. We’re obviously not dealing with a Vanilla Ice fan here. It’s probably a good thing that, so far, I’m not responsible for naming research papers. 

Anyway, this paper wanted to explore the qualities preferred in a chiropractor by key stakeholders in a neurorehabilitation setting. 

How They Did It

  • It was a qualitative analysis of a multi-phase, organizational case study
  • It was designed to evaluate the planned integration of a chiropractor into a multidisciplinary rehabilitation team
  • It was a 62-bed rehabilitation specialty hospital
  • Participants were patients, families, community members, and professional staff of administrative, medical, nursing, and therapy departments. 
  • Data collection was from audiotaped, individual interviews and profession-specific focus groups 
  • 60 participants were interviewed in June 2015
  • 48 were staff members, 6 were patients, 4 were family members, and 2 were community members. 
  • The analysis process helped them produce a conceptual model of The Preferred Chiropractor for Multidisciplinary Rehabilitation Settings. 

What They Found

  • The central domain was Patient-Centeredness, meaning the practitioner would be respectful, responsive, and inclusive of the patient’s values, preferences, and needs. This was mentioned in all interviews and linked to all other themes. Of course, I may interject my own opinion here if you don’t mind. Isn’t the lack of patient-centered care the MAIN gripe when it comes to medical doctors too?!? That’s not just a chiropractic issue. 
  • The Professional qualities domain highlighted clinical acumen, efficacious treatment, and being a safe practitioner. Again, something desired of all practitioners regardless of discipline I would think. 
  • Interpersonal Qualities encouraged chiropractors to offer patients their comforting patience, familiar connections, and emotional intelligence
  • Interprofessional Qualities emphasized teamwork, resourcefulness, and openness to feedback as characteristics to enhance the chiropractor’s ability to work within an interdisciplinary setting.
  • Organizational Qualities, including personality fit, institutional compliance, and mission alignment were important attributes for working in a specific healthcare organization.

Wrap It Up

Salsbury ended the article with this conclusion, “Our findings provide an expanded view of the qualities that chiropractors might bring to multidisciplinary healthcare settings. Rather than labeling stakeholder perceptions as good, bad or indifferent as in previous studies, these results highlight specific attributes chiropractors might cultivate to enhance the patient outcomes and the experience of healthcare, influence clinical decision-making and interprofessional teamwork, and impact healthcare organizations.”

Now when you go a little deeper than the abstract you’ll see statements that hint at the fact that, when it comes to chiropractors there is fragmentation, disconnection, boundary skirmishes, and a general failure to communicate. 

In addition, the primary care providers and medical specialists have recognized the ability of some chiropractors to treat some musculoskeletal stuff in some patients but that’s about it right now. Couple that with the fact that most in the medical kingdom report just not knowing much about chiropractic or its treatments. 

Some medical providers express concern about the safety of spinal manipulation and have voiced skepticism over the efficacy of our protocols. Let’s be fair, I have my own concerns and am skeptical of some of their protocols as well so that swings both ways friends. But for evidence-based chiropractors, integrating chiropractors into the field makes perfect sense.

When talking to orthopedic surgeons that had particularly negative attitudes toward chiropractors, they typically cited something a patient told them or would cite aspects of the fringe element of the chiropractic community that allowed the surgeons to question the ethics of some chiropractors, to comment on the inadequacy of educational training, and comment on the sparse scientific basis of chiropractic treatments. 

To all of this, I say…..what the hell rock have these people been living under? Sure question the ethics of some. I question the ethics of A LOT of chiropractors if I’m being honest. I could be a wealthy man right now myself but I wouldn’t be able to sleep knowing I’m taking advantage of people. But, what about laminectomies? What about the fact that outcomes have never improved for lumbar fusion but they incidence of performing fusions has gone sky high. Where are the ethics on that? The epidural shots have shot through the roof without any improved outcomes and proof of zero long-term benefits. Where are the ethics?

If you question our education, know what you’re talking about first. That’s all I’m saying. The admission scale is low admittedly. There are philosophy courses I could do without. There are a few technique classes I think are worthless but, overall, the education of chiropractors is outstanding. Are physical therapists getting the same basic science courses the medical doctors are getting? Is that happening? From a quick search of the Physical Therapist curriculum, it appears that it is not so what on Earth are these people even talking about?

The other comment was the sparse body of research. Let’s just say that I’ve been blogging on chiropractic research since 2009 every single week without repeating research papers. The body of research is absolutely there. They’re just ignorant of it. It’s that simple. And where is the research for some of the garbage they utilize? 

I’m in no way saying chiropractors don’t need to step up. They most certainly do in a big way if integrating chiropractors si to become a reality. I hope the evidence-based guys and gals are starting to find more places they feel comfortable out there in social media and starting to find more of a voice within the profession. I truly believe there are many many more evidence-based chiros than there are others. Let’s be honest here. If you want to fit into healthcare, you damn well better do it based on solid research and evidence backing your profession and protocols. 

If I went through this paper from top to bottom, we’d be here for hours, I would have a red face from defending chiropractic, my blood pressure would be sky high, and my vernacular would probably devolve into meaningless gibberish at some point. So I’m going to leave it there. I gave you some highlights, I have it cited in the show notes. Go and read it and email me your thoughts. I’d love to hear them. 

This week, I want you to go forward with some things a poster in the Evidence-based chiropractic group on facebook the other day that I thought had value when it comes to what we’re talking about. She said:

Chiropractic is not a religion. 

A medical doctor should be able to understand the language coming out of your mouth, if they do not, they need to be able to find it cited in a medical textbook. 

I think chiropractic has a long way to go. It does indeed. But, not as far as we had to go 5 years ago. We still have too many people out there on the fringe. We still have far too many practices that are about numbers instead of being patient-centered. Don’t you think that when your business is patient-centered, your patients know that and the money takes care of itself? 

On the other hand, if you are trying to get 50 visits out of a patient, some will go for it, but many more will be turned off by it and will not return. Not only that but for many patients, you will have ruined the entire profession in their eyes based on your act of hitting numbers rather than making sure you’re doing what is best for the patient. That’s just being as honest as I know how to be. I know some won’t like that much but it’s a fact. 

I can’t tell you how many patients I have gotten from a guy that made patients sign contracts for treatment and when treatment didn’t work, he wouldn’t allow them out of the contract. How in the hell does that fit into healthcare folks? It certainly not patient-centered in any shape form or fashion and you’re fooling yourself if you think otherwise. You will never see us integrating chiropractors into the medical profession with junk like that. 

I told you that I can’t tell you how many patients we got from this guy’s poor ethics but, the bigger question is, “How many patents did he ruin on the idea of chiropractic so now they’re out there thinking they have to suffer in pain when all they had to do was visit a chiropractor better equipped with a high standard of ethics?”

THAT is the real question. 

We have to improve, yes. But, for us to integrate properly, the medical kingdom has to improve as well in regards to musculoskeletal complaints, proper recommendations and treatments, and in their perception and understanding of chiropractic and what we can do for these patients. It’s not all one-sided in my mind. 

I want you to know with absolute certainty that when Chiropractic is at its best, you can’t beat the risk vs reward ratio because spinal pain is a mechanical pain and responds better to mechanical treatment instead of chemical treatments. Integrating chiropractors makes perfect sense here.

When you look at the body of literature, it is clear: research and clinical experience show that, in about 80%-90% of headaches, neck, and back pain, patients get good to excellent results with Chiropractic when compared to usual medical care. It’s safe, less expensive, decreases chances of surgery and disability. Chiropractors do it conservatively and non-surgically with little time requirement or hassle for the patient. And, if the patient has a “preventative” mindset going forward, chiropractors can likely keep it that way while raising the general, overall level of health! At the end of the day, patients have the right to the best treatment that does the least harm and THAT’S Chiropractic, folks.

Please feel free to send us an email at dr dot williams at chiropracticforward.com and let us know what you think or what suggestions you may have for us for future episodes. Feedback and constructive criticism is a blessing and we want to hear from you on a range of topics so bring it on folks!

If you love what you heard on integrating chiropractors, be sure to check out www.chiropracticforward.com. We want to ask you to share us with your network and help us build this podcast into the #1 Chiropractic podcast in the world. More people need to hear about integrating chiropractors!

We can’t wait to connect with you again next week. From the Chiropractic Forward Podcast flight deck, this is Dr. Jeff Williams saying upward, onward, and forward. 



??Social Media Links


??Player FM Link



CF 026: Chiropractic Better Than Physical Therapy and Usual Medical Care For Musculoskeletal Issues

CF 015: DEBUNKED: The Odd Myth That Chiropractors Cause Strokes (Part 3 of 3)




French S (2018). “Low back pain: a major global problem for which the chiropractic profession needs to take more care.” Chiropr Man Therap 26(28).

Salsbury S “Be good, communicate, and collaborate a qualitative analysis of stakeholder perspectives on adding a chiropractor to the multidisciplinary rehabilitation team.” Chiropr Man Therap 26(29).

Today’s topic was integrating chiropractors, integrating chiropractors, and integrating chiropractors. : )

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *