A retrospective cross sectional survey of thoracic cases on record at Durban University of Technology chiropractic day clinic
Benjamin, Rhoda Lynn
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Research is more than merely an academic exercise. It is a key ingredient in establishing chiropractic’s role in an evolving health care system (Dallas, 1997). Very little is known about the changes in the chiropractic patient population over time (Hartvigsen et al. 2003). Despite the widespread use of chiropractic, good descriptive data on chiropractors and their patients are limited (Coulter and Shekelle, 2005). Few studies have been reported which deal specifically with patients attending chiropractic teaching clinics (Nyiendo and Olsen, 1988). A teaching clinic is an outpatient clinic that provides health care for patients, as opposed to inpatients treated in a hospital. Teaching clinics are traditionally operated by educational institutes and provide free or low-cost services to patients (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teaching_clinic). In April 1994 the chiropractic day clinic was officially opened at the former Technikon Natal (now the Durban University of Technology). Thousands of patients have been treated at this clinic over this twelve year period. In 1994, Elga Renate Drews, conducted research aimed at identifying characteristics of chiropractic patients and their complaints at the chiropractic teaching clinic at Technikon Natal and private practices in South Africa. This survey was conducted from February 1994 to the end of April 1994. 162 Patients were involved in this study. A survey was completed which included the patient’s age, gender, occupation, presenting condition, duration of complaint, previous treatment, referral, severity, quality of pain and their disability. A comparison was made between patients seen in private practice and at the teaching clinic. It was found that generally both populations were very similar, with the exception of the patients’ age and occupation. No other research investigating patient characteristics has been undertaken at Durban University of Technology chiropractic day clinic after 1994. Furthermore, in the study conducted by Drews no mention was made of the type of treatment that was given to patients either in private practice or at the teaching clinic. Although the first successful chiropractic adjustment recorded was in the thoracic spine by Dr. D.D. Palmer, research since then has focused on the lumbar spine (Di Fabio, 1992). In reviewing literature relating to the thoracic spine, it is apparent that in comparison to the cervical and lumbar regions, the thoracic spine has been neglected (Edmonston and Singer, 1997). In South Africa there remains a paucity of information on the types of thoracic conditions chiropractors treat and the management protocols. The present research aimed to shed light on this aspect by collecting data from one of only two chiropractic teaching clinics in South Africa, namely the Durban University of Technology chiropractic day clinic. The purpose of this research was to investigate the age, gender, occupation (whether of a sedentary or non-sedentary nature), prevalence of pain, presenting complaints, common conditions treated and common management protocols of patients who presented with thoracic pain to the Durban University of Technology Chiropractic Day Clinic.