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Palmer College receives grant to start practice-based research network

Maria Hondras, D.C., M.P.H.
Dr. Maria Hondras at computer desk

The U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) awarded a grant for $310,479 to the Palmer Center for Chiropractic Research (PCCR) last fall to establish a practicebased research network to assess complementary and alternative medicine models of pain management. This is a collaborative research project, with Palmer sub-contracting for half of the grant amount ($155,239) to the Jefferson-Myrna Brind Center for Integrative Medicine (JMBCIM) at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, Pa.

The purpose of this project is to develop the infrastructure for a comprehensive, descriptive database for a variety of pain management protocols, to test data collection protocols, and to establish a network of participating practices, clinicians and patient populations. To obtain this information, chiropractors who practice in the Palmer Chiropractic Clinics at all three Palmer campuses, along with CAM providers at JMBCIM will be invited to complete a webbased survey.

“A long-term goal is to establish a large, painfocused, practice-based research network of doctors of chiropractic who systematically collect health outcomes assessments from their patients and track outcomes,” said Principal Investigator Maria Hondras, D.C., M.P.H., who is a faculty member at the PCCR. Other Palmer researchers involved in this project are Co-investigator Christine Goertz, D.C., Ph.D., vice chancellor for Research and Health Policy for Palmer, and Biostatistician/Co-investigator Cynthia Long, Ph.D., who heads the Office of Data Management & Biostatistics for the PCCR. Co-investigators from the JMBCIM are Daniel Monti, M.D., and Joel Edman, D.Sc.

The PCCR Office of Data Management & Biostatistics will serve as the Data Coordinating Center for the new practice-based research network (PBRN). JMBCIM investigators will collaborate to co-develop the protocols and oversight mechanisms to sustain the practicebased network efforts. PCCR and JMBCIM investigators have also built collaborative relationships with complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) leaders from a variety of disciplines who will serve on the PBRN steering committee.

“We are interested in learning more about the practice characteristics and attitudes about participating in PBRN activities from the CAM practitioners who will be part of the proposed CAM-PBRN,” added Dr. Hondras.

In addition, later in 2009, a pilot project will be initiated to collect patient-centered data, at least from the Palmer outpatient clinics and the JMBCIM, and possibly at steering committee institutions.

“The overall purpose of the pilot project is to assess the feasibility of systematically collecting baseline health outcomes assessment from patients with low back pain who visit different types of providers,” said Dr. Hondras. “At the conclusion of this one-year PBRN start-up project, we will be well positioned to prepare a competitive grant proposal for sustaining our efforts and conducting follow-up studies at all of the Palmer Chiropractic Clinics.”

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