Throughout the month of April, we highlighted the importance of measuring and understanding patient satisfaction. In May our focus will be on the importance of patient education in clinical practice. When patients are educated about their health condition and the knowledge that you are using the best practices for their treatment, their understanding and ability to cope with pain as well as compliance with treatment plans increase. The first step in educating the patient is making sure you are aware of the current research findings and  incorporating this information into your practice.

Here is an example of how research findings matter to patients. A recent study looked at patients with acute low back pain and the transition to chronic low back pain. Researchers asked over 5000 patients to complete a 9 question assessment called the Subgroups for Targeted Treatment Back (STarT Back) tool. They found that this questionnaire was able to accurately predict the likelihood of approximately one third of patients transitioning from acute to chronic back pain. Perhaps more importantly, they also found that patients were more likely to have better outcomes if they received early access to spinal manipulation, massage therapy or acupuncture. Patients who are skeptical or new to chiropractic will find this information valuable in supporting their decision to seek your care.

Take away message for your clinical practice? Staying up-to-date on current research and implementing the tools that develop from said research will result in better outcomes for your patient and your clinic. Seriously consider asking your new patients to complete the STarT Back questionnaire and using it to both guide your treatment recommendations and explain why you are incorporating this tool into your practice. It is also important to take some time and review your current patient education materials on a regular basis to make sure they are truly supported by research. Spine IQ can help with our 9 BackFacks, available for free download on our website.


Stevans JM, Delitto A, Khoja SS, Patterson CG, Smith CN, Schneider MJ, Freburger JK, Greco CM, Freel JA, Sowa GA, Wasan AD, Brennan GP, Hunter SJ, Minick KI, Wegener ST, Ephraim PL, Friedman M, Beneciuk JM, George SZ, Saper RB. Risk Factors Associated With Transition From Acute to Chronic Low Back Pain in US Patients Seeking Primary Care. JAMA Netw Open. 2021 Feb 1;4(2):e2037371. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.37371. PMID: 33591367; PMCID: PMC7887659.