Background: Psychosocial stress pervades modern life and is known to have an impact on health. Pain, especially chronic back pain, is influenced by stress. Various strategies have been shown to successfully reduce stress and its consequences.
Objectives: This study explores stress as a potential disease trigger among chiropractic patients.
Method: A descriptive study was undertaken to ascertain the stress perceptions of chiropractic patients. Purposive sampling of chiropractic practices and convenience sampling of patients was undertaken. Patients were allocated to 1 of 4 groups according to their presentation: acute, chronic biomechanical, fibromyalgia, or maintenance care. Participating patients were requested to complete a questionnaire.
Results: Of the 138 patients attending 1 of 10 participating chiropractic clinics, more than 30% regarded themselves as moderately to severely stressed, and over 50% felt that stress had a moderate or greater effect on their current problem. Some 71% of patients felt it would be helpful if their chiropractic care included strategies to help them cope with stress, and 44% were interested in taking a self-development program to enhance their stress management skills.
Conclusion: Patient perceptions are known to be important in health care. A number of chiropractic patients perceive they are moderately or severely stressed. Interventions that reduce stress, or even the patient's perception of being stressed, may be construed as valid, non-specific clinical interventions. It may be timely for chiropractors to actively contemplate including stress management routinely in their clinical care protocols.