In early March I decided that following the release of the Bronfort report I would ask the individual chiropractic associations in the UK if they were offering any advice to their members.
An email was sent to the British Chiropractic Association (BCA), United Chiropractic Association (UCA), McTimoney Chiropractic Association (MCA) and the Scottish Chiropractic Association (SCA) asking what, if any, advice they were providing to their individual members.
I also asked if they were willing to disclose that advice, I didn’t really expect any of them to share their advice and as it turned out, none of them did!
The McTimoney Chiropractic Association was the only one not to reply to my email.
On 5 March the BCA said it was in the process of issuing appropriate advice to its members. This was followed up on 16 March with the following email:
The BCA has produced condition specific guidance which was issued to our members on 10 March 2010 in relation to the findings of the Bronfort Study and considerable effort is being expended to assisting members with compliance, but as I am sure you will understand, this will take a little time.As you are not a member of the BCA, it would be inappropriate to make this information available to you.
It must have been quite difficult time for the BCA, on the one hand they were fighting (and still thought they were winning) their libel case against Simon Singh over his comments criticising the treatment of colic, whilst at the same time having to issue advice to their members saying how the latest research shows that there was no reliable evidence to support treating colic!
The UCA were also following suit and stated:
I can confirm that following the publication of the Bronfort report that was published on 25 February 2010 that this Association will be issuing an advice note to its members. Please be aware that some chiropractors, only within the last couple of days have received a copy of the Bronfort report and the advertising advice note that the General Chiropractic Council have issued
I also got a message from the UCA saying that their president wanted to arrange a telephone call, however the I couldn’t get anybody at the UCA to tell me what he wanted to talk about and he didn’t seem to want to communicate via email. So far the call has not taken place!
The SCA initially said that the advice from the GCC had been forwarded to its members, this was followed up on 12 March by:
The SCA feels that this review study is clear in its findings. As with any study of this nature, however, it is important that our members receive the facts and what these imply for clinical practice and advertising in particular. It is with the desire to have clarity, not ambiguity for our members, that the SCA has taken legal advice to ensure that the further advice and detailed guidance notes that we have put together for our members are a fair and accurate representation of recent research findings.
Unfortunately, we cannot accommodate your request for a copy of the advice to be issued to our members. You can be assured, however, that every measure will be taken to inform our members of the regulations.
I’m not sure what legal advice the SCA took, but it would have been sensible if it included some contact and advice from the CAP Copy Advice Team.
With the SCA having gone to such lengths to ensure their members had a ‘fair and accurate representation of the research‘ I found it a little surprising that 6 weeks after sending that email, the SCA’s own website still contained the following statement: SCA – Common Conditions
“although more people are looking for help with other problems such as digestive and breathing problems and menstural (sic) disorders.”
So on 23 April I contacted the SCA and pointed out that they did not seem to be living up to their own advice and that the Bronfort report does not support chiropractic for treating these conditions.
For menstrual disorders, the report found:
(dysmenorrhea) “Moderate quality evidence that spinal manipulation is no more effective than sham manipulation in the treatment of primary dysmenorrhea”
(Premenstrual syndrome)“Inconclusive evidence in an unclear direction regarding the effectiveness of spinal manipulation for the treatment of premenstrual syndrome “
Whilst the Bronfort report does not directly mention “digestive disorders” or “breathing problems” (unless asthma is counted) the GCC have stated that Bronfort’s original remit was to investigate every condition or symptom that had been listed on a website where the GCC were in receipt of a complaint against that particular website, both of these conditions were included in the original list of conditions.
I asked the SCA if they still considered chiropractic as a viable treatment for these conditions or was it simply an oversight with their web admin.
Today (26 April) the SCA have said:
Thank-you for your e-mail communication regarding a section of our website.
It is not our intention to imply that Chiropractic can ‘treat’ these particular conditions. We state only the fact that people do attend Chiropractors with these complaints.
As an association, however, we have no intention of appearing to mislead the public. As such, we will remove this statement from our website immediately.
If they didn’t intend to imply the use of chiropractic as a treatment option, they shouldn’t have listed those conditions on a page entitled ‘Common Conditions’ alongside other conditions they do consider can be treated.
The page should be changing shortly, but version can be found here Freezepage: SCA – Common Conditions
……. You’ll notice they didn’t say it was an admin error!