Background: Research funds are limited and a healthcare profession that supports research activity should establish research priority areas. The study objective was to identify research priority areas for the Canadian chiropractic profession, and for stakeholders in the chiropractic profession to rank these in order of importance.
Methods: We conducted a modified Delphi consensus study between August 2015 and May 2017 to determine the views of Canadian chiropractic organisations (e.g. Canadian Chiropractic Association; provincial associations) and stakeholder groups (e.g. chiropractic educational institutions; researchers). Participants completed three online Delphi survey rounds. In Round 1, participants suggested research areas within four broad research themes: 1) Basic science; 2) Clinical; 3) Health services; and 4) Population health. In Round 2, researchers created sub-themes by categorising the areas suggested in Round 1, and participants judged the importance of the research sub-themes. We defined consensus as at least 70% of participants agreeing that a research area was "essential" or "very important". In Round 3, results from Round 2 were presented to the participants to re-evaluate the importance of sub-themes. Finally, participants completed an online pairwise ranking activity to determine the rank order of the list of important research sub-themes.
Results: Fifty-seven participants, of 85 people invited, completed Round 1 (response rate 67%). Fifty-six participants completed Round 2, 55 completed Round 3, and 53 completed the ranking activity. After three Delphi rounds and the pairwise ranking activity was completed, the ranked list of research sub-themes considered important were: 1) Integration of chiropractic care into multidisciplinary settings; 2) Costs and cost-effectiveness of chiropractic care; 3) Effect of chiropractic care on reducing medical services; 4) Effects of chiropractic care; 5) Safety/side effects of chiropractic care; 6) Chiropractic care for older adults; 7) Neurophysiological mechanisms and effects of spinal manipulative therapy; 8) General mechanisms and effects of spinal manipulative therapy.
Conclusions: This project identified research priority areas for the Canadian chiropractic profession. The top three priority areas were all in the area of health services research: 1) Integration of chiropractic care into multidisciplinary settings; 2) Costs and cost-effectiveness of chiropractic care; 3) Effect of chiropractic care on reducing medical services.
Keywords: Canada; Chiropractic profession; Delphi study; Research priorities.