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Gallup-Palmer report: 14% of U.S. adults saw a chiropractor last year

Gallup-Palmer report: 14% of U.S. adults saw a chiropractor last year

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Fall/Winter 2015

research update

The Association of Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use and Health-Care Expenditures for Back and Neck Problems

Second in a series of key research-article summaries from the PCCR

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Summary: The purpose of this project was to examine the question of whether Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) increased or decreased overall medical spending for spine care. This was achieved by analysis of the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey from 2002-2008, which included a large, nationally representative sample of 12,036 health-care users with spine problems. Although the definition of CAM included chiropractic, homeopathic and naturopathic physicians, herbalists, acupuncturists, massage therapists and other nontraditional medical treatment, 75 percent of the patients used chiropractic treatment. Thus, the results found were the same for chiropractic by itself as they were for CAM in general.

Take-home Message: The authors found that overall medical spending was not increased by chiropractic use. In fact, mean adjusted medical expenditures were $796 lower annually in general and $424 lower annually for spine-specific health care in chiropractic users vs. nonusers. The lower health expenditures found in chiropractic users was attributed to lower in-patient costs. There were no differences in out-patient medical expenditures between chiropractic and non-chiropractic consumers, either for total health care or for spine-specific care.

These findings are important for the profession because the Gallup-Palmer survey found that Americans perceive chiropractic as too expensive. A key patient-education message is that the evidence shows chiropractic use may actually lower health-care expenditures for spinal care.

Practical Applications for Chiropractors: This study is arguably the most definitive study to date regarding the cost of chiropractic care for people with spine-related conditions.

Access full article: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3494804/ .

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