The Foundation for Chiropractic Progress (F4CP) outlined the inclusion of chiropractic services by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as a portion of the standard medical benefits package which has been provided to all eligible veterans for approximately 10 years. Researchers from the VA Connecticut Healthcare System published a study in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, conducted to demonstrate the substantial growth in the utilization of chiropractic services and the chiropractic workforce in the VA within a decade. According to the new study, the annual number of chiropractic visits increased by roughly 700 percent, indicating that more veterans have increased access to chiropractic care then ever before.
The lead author of the study, Anthony J. Lisi, CD, Director of the Veterans Affairs Chiropractic Program and Chiropractic Section Chief at the Veterans Affairs Connecticut Healthcare System, stated, “Our work shows that the VA has steadily and substantially increased its use of chiropractic services each year following their implementation in late 2004.” He added, “VA chiropractic care evidence-based, patient-centered treatment options that are in demand by veterans and referring providers. VA continues its efforts to ensure appropriate access to chiropractic care across the whole system, but as this study shows, the progress to date has been remarkable.”
Over an 11-year time period, numerous findings among the study revealed that the annual number of veterans and active duty service members treated in VA chiropractic clinics heightened by 821 percent. Also, the annual number of visits to chiropractic offices increased by 693 percent. Then, the study demonstrated that the total number of VA chiropractic clinics escalated by 9 percent annually while the number of chiropractor employees expanded by 21 percent annually. And finally, throughout the multitude of findings within the 11-year period of the study, the average VA chiropractic patient was identified as male, between the ages of 45 and 64, is seen for lower back and/or neck injuries or conditions, and generally receives an examination, followed by chiropractic spinal adjustments and manual manipulations as well as other healthcare services.
Co-Author Cynthia A. Brandt, MD, MPH, Health Services Researcher at the Veterans Affairs Connecticut Healthcare System and Professor at Yale University School of Medicine quoted, “Chiropractic care is an important component in the treatment of veterans with spinal conditions and pain symptoms. The trends we identified provide a foundation for further research to examine the optimal models of care delivery for patients.”
The conducted study also revealed that VA chiropractic clinics noticed a higher percentage of female and younger individuals as compared to the national VA outpatient population. The statistical inclination was consistent with the numerous veterans from the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, which was acknowledged for its immense predominance of musculoskeletal injuries and conditions.
The growth of chiropractic service use among active duty military members and veterans alike for pain management and other health matters, specifically those in the Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation New Dawn and older adult populations, represents the definitive demand for chiropractic services. The incremented utilization of chiropractic care is a direct reflection of the improved clinical effect and increased patient satisfaction scores that have been documented before. Sherry McAllister, DC, executive vice president, F4CP, stated, “We commend VA for its participation in ongoing chiropractic research to help further improve the health and well-being of our respected and valued veterans.”
The authors of the study also addressed that the increased development in VA chiropractic utilization had occurred without additional laws authorizing an increase. In other words, this action demonstrates an increase in the recognition of value of chiropractic care in the Veterans Affairs. In a recent editorial, VA Under Secretary for Health, David J. Shulkin, MD, sourced the VA’s chiropractic program as a model showing the important healthcare competence being supplied to veterans.
Chiropractic treatment is combined with primary care, specialty clinics, rehabilitation, provide a non-pharmacologic option for pain management as well as general health and wellness concerns. Doctors of chiropractic (DCs) who receive a minimum of seven years of higher level education, contribute with non-operative managing of injuries and/or conditions such as back pain, neck pain, headaches, and joint pain, through a comprehensive approach including spinal adjustments and manual manipulations.
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For about a decade now, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has included chiropractic services as a part of the standard medical benefits package for eligible veterans. Annually, there’s been a recorded increase in the number of chiropractic visits, suggesting the VA values chiropractic treatment as a portion of their treatment options available to many veterans and active duty military members alike. For more information, please feel free to ask Dr. Jimenez or contact us at (915) 850-0900.
By Dr. Alex Jimenez
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