In 2007, an article in “The Chiropractic Report” (vol. 21, no. 1, pp. 1-8) provided a summary of the many studies that have evaluated patient satisfaction with chiropractic care. These studies (which include Australian research) are almost unanimous in reporting high levels of satisfaction with chiropractic care and/or higher levels of satisfaction with chiropractic care when compared with other health care providers. For example, one study entailed a national phone survey of households and found that 83% of those surveyed who had seen a chiropractor were satisfied or very satisfied with the care they received (Gaumer, 2006, Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, vol. 29, pp. 455-462). Less than 10% reported being dissatisfied or very dissatisfied. Gaumer noted that these high levels of satisfaction were particularly “remarkable given the fact that much of the financial burden of the care is borne by patients, and that the preponderance of care is for difficult chronic problems of the back and neck” (p. 461).
So why are the vast majority of patients satisfied with the care they receive from a chiropractor? Research to date suggests several noteworthy factors. In the study by Gaumer, overall satisfaction with chiropractic care was related to the chiropractor ‘explaining health problems and choices available’, being ‘concerned about me as a person and my overall health’, and ‘providing effective advice for routine problems and illnesses’. So the combination of caring, clear communication and effective help seems to be central. Some support for the greater effectiveness of chiropractic care alone compared to medical care alone for patients with low back pain was reported in a study by Hurwitz and colleagues (2006, Spine, vol. 31, pp. 611-621). Chiropractic patients reported a greater likelihood of their pain having improved, a higher percentage of patients in complete remission after 18 months, and significanlty less use of prescription medication compared to the medical patients.
Despite the already high rates of patient satisfaction with chiropractic care, it should always be the goal to increase patient satisfaction even further. As always, I welcome any feedback that my patients have regarding how their chiropractic experience might be further improved.