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September 2022

West J Med. 1988 Oct; 149(4): 475-80.

Managing low back pain--a comparison of the beliefs and behaviors of family physicians and chiropractors.

Cherkin DC, MacCornack FA, Berg AO.

Random samples of 605 family physicians and 299 chiropractors in Washington were surveyed to determine their beliefs about back pain and how they would respond to three hypothetic patients with back pain. With 79% of the family physicians and 70% of the chiropractors responding, family physicians and chiropractors differed greatly not only in their technical approaches to back pain--such as drug therapy versus spinal manipulation--but also in their underlying beliefs and attitudes. Family physicians think that most back pain is caused by muscle strain, that lumbosacral radiographs are rarely useful, that appropriate therapy does not depend on a precise diagnosis, and that back pain will usually resolve within a few weeks without professional help. Family physicians were more likely than chiropractors to feel frustrated by patients with back pain, less likely to think they can help patients prevent future episodes of back pain, and less confident that their patients are satisfied with their care. Studies are needed to determine whether the different perspectives of family physicians and chiropractors are associated with differences in the costs and outcomes of care.


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