Shared Decision Making Through Informed Consent in Chiropractic Management of Low Back Pain

Published:March 12, 2012DOI:



      The purpose of this study was to propose questions that may be helpful to educate patients considering treatment approaches to manage low back pain (LBP) and to determine if the information currently presented in informed consent (IC) documents at chiropractic colleges is sufficient to help a patient considering chiropractic management of LBP make a fully informed decision.


      Questions to inform decision making for a patient contemplating any intervention for LBP were developed by the authors based on their clinical and research experience. Answers to the questions were suggested based on findings from recent clinical practice guidelines and systematic reviews. Institutions that are members of the Association of Chiropractic Colleges (ACC) were surveyed and asked to provide a copy of the IC documents currently used in their outpatient educational clinics. The IC documents were analyzed to determine if they stated (or implied) information that may be helpful in addressing each of the proposed questions.


      The list of 20 questions included 4 questions on each of the following 5 topics: condition, proposed treatment, potential benefits, potential harms, and possible alternatives. A total of 21 ACC institutions were contacted, of which 20 responded. The number of questions that could potentially be answered with information provided in the IC documents ranged from 2 to 13, with a mean of 6.5, including a mean of 3.6 stated answers and 2.9 implied answers.


      Some information to help patients consider chiropractic management of LBP is currently included in the IC documents used in clinics of ACC institutions. However, many of the questions that could help achieve shared decision making are not included. Modifying IC documents may help patients understand the nature, benefits, harms, costs, and alternatives to LBP care.

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