Palmer College

Palmer participating in three integrative healthcare studies

Palmer co-recipient of $7.4 million research grant

The Palmer Center for Chiropractic Research (PCCR) has conducted collaborative research projects with other colleges and healthcare institutions since its inception. But in the past few years, the PCCR has been increasingly involved in research projects working alongside scientists from many different health professions.

In February 2011, scientists at the PCCR, the RAND Corporation and the Samueli Institute were awarded a landmark $7.4 million grant by the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program. The grant will fund a four-year research project to assess chiropractic treatment for military readiness in active duty personnel. This is the largest single award for a chiropractic research project in the history of the profession, and will be used to conduct the largest clinical trial evaluating chiropractic to date.

Ian Coulter, Ph.D., the Samueli Institute Chair in Policy for Integrative Medicine at RAND Corporation, is the research project’s principal investigator. Co-principal investigator and Palmer College of Chiropractic’s Vice Chancellor for Research and Health Policy Christine Goertz, D.C., Ph.D., will oversee the design and implementation of the three clinical trials funded by this award. The PCCR will receive approximately $5.1 million in order to accomplish this task. Samueli Institute Vice President for Military Medical Research Joan Walter, J.D., also is a co-principal investigator for this project.

Palmer Board of Trustees member William Morgan, D.C., West ’85, who is a chiropractor on staff at Bethesda’s National Naval Medical Center, provided guidance during the grant application process. He served as a subject matter expert in the delivery of chiropractic care in the military, and was instrumental in providing information on patient demographics and conditions treated in the military, as well as identifying optimal military chiropractic sites and military units.

“If this study confirms what other high-quality studies have found, it will be a boon for chiropractors everywhere,” Dr. Morgan says. “It paves the way for chiropractic inclusion in algorithms of care, and a justification for the expansion and further inclusion of the chiropractic benefit will take place. This study has the potential to be very significant and its results may very well impact our profession for many years to come.”

Because musculoskeletal injuries are among the most commonly occurring injuries in military personnel, and can reduce levels of performance and military readiness, the study will assess the efficacy of chiropractic treatment for active duty military personnel in a number of areas.

Through three clinical trials, this comprehensive project will assess the efficacy of chiropractic treatment: in relieving low back pain and improving function in active duty service members; evaluate the effects of chiropractic treatment on reflexes and reaction times for Special Operations forces; determine the effect of chiropractic treatment on strength, balance and injury prevention for members of the Armed Forces with combat specialties; and assess the impact of a chiropractic intervention on smoking cessation in military service members.

Currently there are 24 Army bases, 17 Navy bases and 20 Air Force bases with chiropractors on site.

Group effort: Addressing collaborative care for low back pain patients over 65
COCOA participants will receive medical care or combined medical and chiropractic care over a 12-week period. Here, PCCR Clinician Paige Morgenthal, D.C., palpates a patient.
Dr. Paige Morgenthal with hand on patient

After receiving a three-year, $1.3 million grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration in September 2009, the PCCR began collaboration with researchers at the Genesis Quad Cities Family Medicine Residency Program, the College of Public Health at the University of Iowa, and the College of Health Professions at Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pa., to study co-management by M.D.s and D.C.s of adults over the age of 65 with low back pain. The project is named Collaborative Care for Older Adults with Back Pain or COCOA. Patient recruitment in the Quad Cities began in March 2011.

“Currently, there are few examples and little scientific study of care coordination between medical doctors and doctors of chiropractic for low back pain, and nothing that specifically targets adults over the age of 65,” says Christine Goertz, D.C., Ph.D., Palmer’s vice chancellor for research and health policy and principal investigator of the study. “This study will begin to address this critical gap in the literature.”

Study to observe effects of chiropractic on the underserved

The third of PCCR’s integrative research projects is taking place in the Quad Cities area (QCA), through a unique partnership between Palmer researchers and staff at the Davenport-based Community Health Care, Inc. Known as “Back-to-Health in the QCA,” the joint project will study the effectiveness of chiropractic care in medically underserved populations.

In September 2010, the PCCR received a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that is being used to fund a research-focused initiative to place a chiropractor into the Davenport-based Community Health Care, Inc., system of clinics. The grant is funding a research program to study the effects of chiropractic care on low-income and underserved populations in this type of clinic system. Beginning in February 2011, a chiropractor began providing care to patients at Community Health Care’s downtown Davenport clinic, in collaboration with M.D.s, nurse practitioners and others.

The main goal of “Back-to-Health in the QCA” is to form a multidisciplinary spine care team made up of doctors of chiropractic, medical doctors, nurse practitioners, and other healthcare providers. They will focus on providing the best possible care for patients with musculoskeletal conditions such as back and neck pain.

“Palmer is committed to best practices in patient care as well as integration with other healthcare providers,” says Maria Hondras, D.C., M.P.H., a PCCR faculty member and principal investigator for the study. “This joint venture provides the exciting opportunity to establish a much-needed community college partnership between Community Health Care and Palmer.”

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