Experiences and Attitudes About Chiropractic Care and Prescription Drug Therapy Among Patients With Back Pain: A Cross-Sectional Survey

J Chiropr Med. 2021 Mar;20(1):1-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jcm.2021.02.003. Epub 2021 May 12.

Abstract

Objective: The purpose of this study was to examine experiences and attitudes toward care offered by chiropractors and prescription drug therapy offered by medical physicians for patients who have back pain.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey measured patients with back pain (n = 150) seeking care within an academic primary care setting. A survey assessed patient experiences, beliefs, and attitudes regarding chiropractic care and prescription drug therapy. Two samples of patients in the New Hampshire region included 75 patients treated by a doctor of chiropractic (DC) and 75 treated by a medical primary care physician (PCP). The 30-item survey was sent to existing and new patients between February 2019 and January 2020. Between-group comparisons were examined to test rates of reporting and to determine the mean difference in the total number of office visits between the 2 samples.

Results: Patients treated by both DCs and PCPs reported high overall satisfaction with chiropractic care received for low back pain with no significant differences between groups. The majority in both groups reported that seeing a DC for back pain made sense to them (95% of patients treated by a DC and 75% of patients treated by a PCP) whereas the minority reported that taking prescription drugs for back pain made sense (25% of patients treated by a DC and 41% of patients treated by a PCP). There was no statistical difference between groups when patients were asked if seeing a chiropractor changed their beliefs or behaviors about taking pain medication. Significant differences were found between groups for agreement that chiropractic care would be a suitable treatment for back pain (79% of patients treated by a DC and 45% of patients treated by a PCP). There were 7% of patients treated by PCP and 23% of the patients treated by DC who agreed that a DC would be the first health care provider they would like to see for their general health needs.

Conclusions: In this sample of patients, patient satisfaction regarding chiropractic care received for back pain was high. There were differences between patient groups about preferences for treatment for back pain. Our results indicate that patients reported that seeing a DC for back pain did not change their beliefs or behaviors regarding prescription drug therapy provided by their medical PCP.

Keywords: Back Pain; Chiropractic; Medication Therapy Management; Patient Satisfaction; Physicians, Primary Care; Prescription Drug.