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Man with Shield

Why Research is the Profession's Best Defense

In 125 years of existence, chiropractic has survived a sordid history of derision, defamation, and attempts at outright destruction by enemies of our beliefs and practices of heathy living.

We have been sustained by grateful patients who have found relief and comfort through the appropriate administration of chiropractic care.

The fight for a share of cultural authority within the social role of being a healthcare provider, so closely guarded by medicine, has been waged in the battlefield of public opinion, legislative and legal actions. Consequently, now is the time to open up new venues of thought and inquiry necessary to overcome long-standing prejudice and outright professional discrimination.

Objectivity Matters

Research is a theater of inquiry grounded in objectivity. While science is not without bias, proper research protocol demands that bias be reduced, if not eliminated, in all aspects of inquiry, experimentation and interpretation. To ignore this sure path of increased understanding is committing professional suicide. We would be denying any right to claim a share of the cultural authority society grants health care providers.

The absence of rigorous and appropriate research mirrors our way of thinking and doing. But the rigors of research come with both a price and a reward, as the sustaining of chiropractic is not a simple or easy endeavor. The creation of the NCMIC Foundation was a necessary step to ensure continued chiropractic research.

Why research needs to happen is the first step in protecting our profession. The types of research are helpful but each presents additional challenges.

Research Types

When chiropractic dollars support chiropractic research, the logical assumption is that the research should be chiropractic relevant. This can extend into the basic science of how and why chiropractic care may affect physiological functions in the:

  • Brain
  • Spine
  • Nervous system
  • Immune system
  • Musculoskeletal system
  • Other areas of the body

Relevance also extends into clinical science. Research has already documented that chiropractic care can be beneficial to persons suffering from various types of back pain.

What clinical conditions and symptoms might be alleviated through chiropractic care? Can chiropractic care have a beneficial effect on other conditions associated with the musculoskeletal system? Anecdotal evidence suggests there may be a cause/effect relationship in many areas, but again, research demands validation.

Relevance can also extend into research’s biopsychosocial realm. This research model can open vistas of application with mental conditions, doctor-patient interactions, and pain and coping mechanisms. Even the social structure of the health care delivery system is part of the broader spectrum of research possibilities.

Future Examiner articles will explore these relevant frontiers to the chiropractic profession. The goal is to help doctors understand how research closes the doors of error and pursues the potential of wisdom.


About the Author

Reed Phillips, DC, PhD, is a graduate of National College of Chiropractic. Following 10 years in private practice, he served as director of research for the Foundation for Chiropractic Education and Research and for the Los Angeles College of Chiropractic where he later became president. He has been a member of the WFC Research Council since it was formed.


Dr. Phillips was the chair of the Chiropractic Advisory Committee for the Veterans Health Affairs and a member of the Oversight Advisory Committee for the Department of Defense Demonstration Project.

Dr. Phillips serves on three editorial boards and was editor-in-chief of the Journal for Chiropractic Education. He has written more than 60 book chapters and articles in peer-reviewed publications.

About the NCMIC Foundation

The NCMIC Foundation is the premiere funding organization dedicated to the advancement of the practice of chiropractic and the profession.

The NCMIC Foundation supports two programs to advance chiropractic research. The first is a fellowship program designed to help graduate DCs obtain either a master’s or a PhD degree.

Advanced degrees are most often sought in body mechanics, human function, neuroscience and epidemiology. However, degrees in business, curriculum design, communication, political science and policy, health administration, and health services research have also received support. The goal is to help DCs to become better critical

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