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A survey of Australian chiropractors’ attitudes and beliefs about evidence-based practice and their use of research literature and clinical practice guidelines

Walker, B.F., Stomski, N.J., Hebert, J.J. and French, S.D. (2013) A survey of Australian chiropractors’ attitudes and beliefs about evidence-based practice and their use of research literature and clinical practice guidelines. Chiropractic & Manual Therapies, 21 (1). p. 44.

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Abstract

Background

Research into chiropractors’ use of evidence in clinical practice appears limited to a single small qualitative study. The paucity of research in this area suggests that it is timely to undertake a more extensive study to build a more detailed understanding of the factors that influence chiropractors’ adoption of evidence-based practice (EBP) principles. This study aimed to identify Australian chiropractors’ attitudes and beliefs towards EBP in clinical practice, and also examine their use of research literature and clinical practice guidelines.

Methods

We used an online questionnaire about attitudes, beliefs and behaviours towards the use of EBP in clinical practice that had been developed to survey physiotherapists and modified it to ensure that it was relevant to chiropractic practice. We endeavoured to survey all registered Australian chiropractors (n = 4378) via email invitation distributed by Australian chiropractic professional organisations and the Chiropractic Board of Australia. Logistic regression analyses were conducted to examine univariate associations between responses to items measuring attitudes and beliefs with items measuring: age; years since registration; attention to literature; and use of clinical practice guidelines.

Results

Questionnaires were returned by 584 respondents (response rate approximately 13%). The respondents’ perceptions of EBP were generally positive: most agreed that the application of EBP is necessary (77.9%), literature and research findings are useful (80.2%), EBP helps them make decisions about patient care (66.5%), and expressed an interest in learning or improving EBP skills (74.9%). Almost half of the respondents (45.1%) read between two to five articles a month. Close to half of the respondents (44.7%) used literature in the process of clinical decision making two to five times each month. About half of the respondents (52.4%) agreed that they used clinical practice guidelines, and around half (54.4%) agreed that they were able to incorporate patient preferences with clinical practice guidelines. The most common factor associated with increased research uptake was the perception that EBP helps make decisions about patient care.

Conclusions

Most Australian chiropractors hold positive attitudes towards EBP, thought EBP was useful, and were interested in improving EBP skills. However, despite the favourable inclination towards EBP, many Australian chiropractors did not use clinical practice guidelines. Our findings should be interpreted cautiously due to the low response rate.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Health Professions
Publisher: BioMed Central
Copyright: 2013 Walker et al.
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/20349
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