Today, we have one of the giants of chiropractic research as our guest. I will go further into her background in a moment but we have Dr. Christine Goertz joining us today and, if you do not know who she is, it is time to listen up. Don’t you go anywhere because this is going to be an excellent episode full of great information.
But first, here’s that “oh how sweet it is” bumper music
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Christine Goertz, D.C., Ph.D., is the Chief Operating Officer of the Spine Institute for Quality. She is also an Adjunct Associate at the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Duke University Medical Center and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Epidemiology, College of Public Health at the University of Iowa. Prior to joining Spine IQ, she was Vice Chancellor of Research and Health Policy at Palmer College of Chiropractic for eleven years.
Dr. Goertz received her Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree from Northwestern Health Sciences University in 1991 and her Ph.D. in Health Services Research, Policy and Administration from the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota in 1999. Her 25-year research career has focused on working with multi-disciplinary teams to design and implement clinical and health services research studies designed to increase knowledge regarding the effectiveness and cost of complementary and integrative healthcare delivery.
She has extensive experience in the administration of Federal grants, both as a PI and as a program official at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Dr. Goertz has received nearly $32M in federal funding as either principal investigator or co-principal investigator, primarily from NIH and the Department of Defense, and has authored or co-authored more than 100 peer-reviewed papers. Her primary area of focus is the investigation of patient-centered, non-pharmacological treatments for spine-related disorders. Dr. Goertz is a former member of the NIH/NCCIH National Advisory Council and currently serves on the Board of Governors for the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), where she has assumed numerous leadership roles. In September 2018 Dr. Goertz was appointed to a 3-year term as Vice Chair of the PCORI Board by the Comptroller General of the United States.
Welcome to the show Dr. Goertz. I can’t tell you how excited I am to have on our podcast.
Can I first ask you what was the impetus for your wanting to get into the research end of the profession? How do you come to the decision to dive into research full-time vs. treating patients day-to-day like so many of us do?
I noticed on your CV that you are currently an adjunct professor with the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina and also an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Epidemiology, College of Public Health, University of Iowa. All the while, you are working with The Pine Institue for Quality (AKA Spine IQ). Can you tell us what a regular day looks like for you?
Whether you know it or not, you have been a game-changer for this profession. You have, likely unknowingly, played a big part in some of our podcast episodes. I want to start with a paper we covered. I called it The Veterans Paper and it was HUGE. Though I call it the Veterans Paper, you say it was done as part of the Department of Defense. I wonder….did you notice anything BIG after it was published in JAMA? Was it, in your opinion, any more impactful than your other papers?
Here’s what happened as soon as that paper came out from my perspective; almost immediately, we began getting interest from our local VA and, once we completed credentialing, we started seeing referrals. Before that paper…..nothing. No interest. I don’t know if you’re ready to take all of the credit for that but I’m going to give it to your regardless. On behalf of the entire evidence-informed chiropractic profession, thank you for that.
In emails we have exchanged leading up to our time together today, you mentioned you have a large pragmatic trial funded by the NIH in the VA. Can you tell us anything about that?
In your work called “Insurer Coverage of Nonpharmacological Treatments for Low Back Pain – Time for a Change” published in JAMA October 2015, you say there are no policies emphasizing nonpharma treatment at the forefront of the patient experience, no meaningful levels of coverage for care professionals focussing on nonpharma therapy, and no policies providing financial incentives in favor of nonpharma. I have seen your work make huge differences but have to admit, I’m still seeing reimbursements for chiropractors being a challenge. We have folks out here struggling in practice in spite of everything in our favor. Have you experienced any changes after this came out in JAMA? Can we expect these sentiments you describe to gather steam in the next year or so?
In another piece of yours called “What does research reveal about chiropractic costs?” you say something I want to commend you on. You say, “without a doubt, the most common issues raised by those outside the profession relate to the quality and consistency of chiropractic care delivery.” I think we can all agree that standardization is likely the biggest hurdle our profession faces in regard to integration. Do you believe chiropractic residency training would better prepare chiropractic providers to offer high quality care within medical facilities?
I’m currently over 2/3 of the way through the Diplomate for the Academy of Chiropractic Orthopedists. I see the value every day but, in your opinion, should Board Certification become the norm for chiropractic providers rather than the exception?
In that same paper, when talking about costs for chiropractic care you point out that we are likely equal or less in cost. You say, “In particular, it appears that patients who visit a chiropractor are less likely to undergo hospitalization, resulting in lower global healthcare costs than those who receive medical care only.” Do you feel that the medical field is coming to the point they are seeing our potential in improvement as well as our cost-effectiveness on more of a widespread scale or are there just little pockets here and there? Is the medical field starting to catch on but the insurance companies are still not allowing the change? What are you seeing on your end of things?
You recently were part of a paper that was published just this year, 2019, called, “Effect of chiropractic manipulative therapy on reaction time in special operations forces military personnel: a randomized controlled trial.” I really have to talk to you researchers about trying to shorten the names of these papers.
Anyway, you all concluded on that one that one session of chiropractic manipulative therapy had immediate effect of reducing the time required for asymptomatic special operations forces to complete a complex whole-body motor response task. Tell me….what are we looking at here? Where is this line of research leading future research?
I personally love it and think it has extremely high value so when I ask you this question, please don’t take it as a negative. Are you responsible for instigating the Palmer-Gallup Poll? What were the main goals for starting it and has it lived up to the original thought process behind its beginning?
I thought this was an interesting question. A listener and member of our private group on Facebook, Dr. Trent Peng, suggested I ask you which chiropractic adjustment techniques are sufficiently evidence-based in the scientific literature?
In an article by Lisa Rappaport, called “Adding chiropractic to back pain care may reduce disability,” she interviewed you for the article. She had a quote in the article from you that said, “Spinal manipulation (often referred to as chiropractic adjustment) may help heal tissues in your body that form as a result of injury, decreasing pain and improving your body’s ability to move correctly.”
The other was, “It is also possible that manipulation impacts the way that your body perceives pain through either the brain or the spinal cord and/or decreases pain from muscle strain, inflammation and/or spasm in the muscles next to your spine.”
The first comment I have on this is that I love the second quote because there is more and more information coming out about what part the central nervous system plays in regard to pain. Pain sensitization, movement dysfunction, joint proprioception and thing of that nature. I thought that quote brought some of that into consideration without getting too complicated for a normal reader. So, kudos on that!
I remember thinking to myself that there are a lot of “may help” and “it is possible” kind of language. I understand that researchers shouldn’t formulate opinions or conclusions in definite terms or absolutes and I completely understand that, but my question to this point is do you ever see a time that all chiropractors can say with a high degree of confidence exactly what happens and exactly why it helps people heal or feel better?
I was sent a paper I believe you have in progress called “Assessment of chiropractic care on strength, balance, and endurance in active-duty US military personnel with low back pain: a protocol for a randomized controlled trial. In the Background section, you all say, Chiropractic care may facilitate the strengthening of trunk muscles, the alteration of sensory and motor signaling, and a reduction in pain sensitivity, which may contribute to improving strength, balance, and endurance for individuals with low back pain.”
As you probably know, here in Texas, we are in a perpetual battle against the Texas Medical Association. Recently, they won a decision that was upheld on appeal to remove the ‘neuro’ snippet from our scope description of treatment the neuromusculoskeletal system. Essentially, they say we only treat the musculoskeletal system. With the research you have done and are currently involved in, what do you say to this?
What has been your favorite project or finding you have been a part of so far?
What has been your favorite paper, project, or finding that a colleague has written but you were not a part of?
What conclusion have you had to draw at the end of a paper that surprised you the most?
How do you see quality research translating into a greater level of inter-professional collaboration and how do you see the future of chiropractic unfolding in terms of integration into the healthcare system?
A tie-in question here, where do you see the profession in 10 years?
I know that low back is one of the biggest reasons for disability worldwide, if not the biggest. It deserves the attention it has received. We have research on low back pain now to the point that even traditional chiropractic detractors can’t really argue all that much with us on low back pain. But we still have a fight on our hands when it comes to cervical manipulation. My question is why do you think we don’t see more research for cervical manipulation and do you see the spotlight ever changing and the research beginning to focus on cervical manipulation and the benefits for neck pain and headache/migraine?
In the private Chiropractic Forward Facebook Group, we are curious….what are you up to right now? What are you working on?
Apart from what you are working on right now, what are your goals in regard to research in the next 10 years?
Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to join us. I hope our listeners got as much use out of our talk as I did. I truly believe that our profession is where it is and going the direction it’s going in large part because of you an d your efforts.
And I thank you so much.
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 primarily a movement-related pain and typically responds better to movement-related treatment instead of chemical treatments like pills and shots.
When compared to the traditional medical model, research and clinical experience show that many patients get good or excellent results through chiropractic for headaches, neck pain, back pain, joint pain, to name just a few.
Chiropractic care is safe and cost-effective. It can decrease instances of surgery & disability. Chiropractors normally do this through conservative, non-surgical means with minimal time requirements or hassle to the patient.
And, if the patient develops a “preventative” mindset going forward from initial recovery, chiropractors can likely keep it that way while raising the general, overall level of health of the patient!
Patients should have the guarantee of having the best treatment offering the least harm.
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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.
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About the Author & Host
Dr. Jeff Williams – Chiropractor in Amarillo, TX, Chiropractic Advocate, Author, Entrepreneur, Educator, Businessman, Marketer, and Healthcare Blogger & Vlogger