The Foundation for Chiropractic Progress notes that for more than 10 years, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has included chiropractic services as part of the standard medical benefits package offered to all enrolled veterans. According to a study conducted by researchers from the VA Connecticut Healthcare System, published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, the use of chiropractic services and the chiropractic workforce in VA has grown substantially since their introduction over a decade ago. The annual number of chiropractic visits has increased by nearly 700 percent, thus demonstrating more veterans have access to chiropractic care than ever before.
“Our work shows that VA has steadily and substantially increased its use of chiropractic services each year following their implementation in late 2004,” states lead author of the study Anthony J. Lisi, DC, Director of the VA Chiropractic Program, and Chiropractic Section Chief at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System. He adds, “VA chiropractic care includes evidence-based, patient-centered treatment options that are in demand by veterans and referring providers. VA continues its efforts to ensure appropriate access to chiropractic care across the whole system, but as this paper shows, the progress to date has been remarkable.”
Among the multitude of findings during an 11-year period, the study showed that:
■ The annual number of patients seen in VA chiropractic clinics increased by 821 percent.
■ The annual number of chiropractic visits grew by 693 percent.
■ The total number of VA chiropractic clinics climbed 9 percent annually, and the number of chiropractor employees increased by 21 percent annually.
■ The average VA chiropractic patient is male, between the ages of 45 and 64, is seen for low back and/or neck conditions, and receives examination, chiropractic spinal manipulation and other health care services.
Co-Author Cynthia A. Brandt, MD, MPH, Health Services Researcher at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System and Professor at Yale University School of Medicine states, “Chiropractic care is an important component in the treatment of veterans with spinal pain conditions. The trends we identified provide a foundation for further research to examine the optimal models of care delivery for patients.”
The study notes: “Our results indicate that VA chiropractic clinics saw a greater percentage of female and younger patients compared with the national VA outpatient population. This demographic tendency is consistent with the cohort of veterans from the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, which is known to have a high prevalence of musculoskeletal conditions.”
“The growing utilization of chiropractic services among veterans for pain management and other health concerns, particularly those in the Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation New Dawn and older adult populations, showcases the clear-cut demand for chiropractic care and is a direct reflection of the improved clinical outcomes and high patient satisfaction scores that have been documented previously,” says Sherry McAllister, DC, Foundation for Chiropractic Progress executive vice president. “We commend VA for its participation in ongoing chiropractic research to help further improve the health and well-being of our respected and valued veterans.”
The authors also state that the growth in VA chiropractic use has occurred without additional laws mandating expansion. This suggests an increasing recognition of the value of chiropractic care in VA. In a recent editorial, VA Under Secretary for Health, David J. Shulkin, MD, cited VA’s chiropractic program as one example of the important health care expertise provided to veterans.
Doctors of chiropractic – who receive a minimum of seven years of higher level education – provide non-operative management of conditions such as headaches, back pain, neck pain, or pain in joints, via a comprehensive approach including manual techniques and active rehabilitation.
Chiropractic services are integrated with primary care, specialty clinics and rehabilitation, and provide a non-pharmacologic option for pain management, as well as general health and wellness concerns.Leave a reply