An investigation into the congruency between research perceived to be of relevance to chiropractors practicing in KwaZulu-Natal and the student research completed at the Durban University of Technology
Van der Hulst, Nicolette
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Background: The recent increase in the implementation of evidence-based practice (EBP) in the Chiropractic profession and the call within the profession for validation of its claims has seen a growing interest in good quality research. It is advocated that the future of Chiropractic research and thus the success of the profession is dependent on future practitioner and student research endeavours. It was the aim of this study to evaluate the student research agendas at the Durban University of Technology (DUT). Secondly, local Chiropractors were asked what they perceived to be clinically relevant Chiropractic research agendas. The agendas that were under-studied by the students, but perceived as important by the practitioners, were recommended as suggestions for more clinically relevant future student research. The intention of this was that future student research would become more congruent with local and international Chiropractic research trends. Methodolody: The study was a prospective exploratory study, which utilised a mixed method approach. Documented evidence giving an overview of student research completed at the DUT was combined with a qualitative questionnaire that was circulated to all Chiropractors practicing in KwaZulu-Natal. The questionnaire aimed to give insight into the research agendas perceived to be most relevant for future research by Chiropractic professionals. Incongruence between the research completed at the DUT and the research that is perceived to be of highest professional relevance by Chiropractors in KwaZulu-Natal was determined. All the Chiropractors practicing in KwaZulu-Natal as per the AHPCSA list received the questionnaire. A neutral third party at DUT collected the returned questionnaires and data analysis followed. The student research completed at the DUT between 1994 and 2013 was obtained from the Institutional Repository (IR) and library archives. These studies were descriptively analysed and compared with the respondents’ perceptions of clinically important Chiropractic research. Data analysis highlighted the overlap of agendas and gaps in the research. Following this was a statistical analysis of the questionnaire responses using Pearson’s chi square tests for two independent samples. A p value of ≤ 0.05 was considered as statistically significant. The results were interpreted using frequency tables and bar charts for categorical variables, while summary statistics such as mean, standard deviation and range were used for continuous variables. A descriptive comparison was performed to determine the congruency between the student research agendas and the research perceived to be of relevance by Chiropractors practicing in KwaZulu-Natal. Results: The response rate of 66.3 % was regarded as representative of the entire Chiropractic population. The overall practitioner perception of research was positive with 64.4% of the respondents perceiving improved Chiropractic abilities due to previous research experience. The prevailing practitioner reason for research conducted was that it increased recognition as an EBP, increased development within the profession and validated its claims and theories. An investigation into the student studies found that the majority of the research agendas recommended by the respondents had been undertaken at DUT. Future research into the following areas is encouraged: Neurological testing. Orthopaedic testing. Reduction of posture related disorders. Gross anatomical changes as a result of the Chiropractic manipulation. Range of Motion (ROM) assessment. Muscular testing, motion and/ or static palpation. Gait and posture assessment. The respondents were asked to give recommendations for future Chiropractic research; the majority was willing to contribute a database of shared research ideas. It was anticipated that the sharing of the practitioner ideas with the students would result in more clinically relevant student research being produced. Conclusion: A comparison of the DUT student research agendas and those of Chiropractors in KwaZulu-Natal highlighted an incongruence of purpose between the two. The research agendas recommended by the Chiropractic respondents were recommended for future student uptake. A shared database of student and practitioner research ideas aimed to encourage future student research that is more clinically relevant and in line with local and international research trends.