The Journal of Alternative, Complementary & Integrative Medicine published a study on December 20, 2017, showing that children under chiropractic care experience an improved quality of life on multiple levels as measured by standard tests. According to the Oxford dictionary, quality of life (QoL) can be defined as, “The standard of health, comfort, and happiness experienced by an individual or group.”
The study authors begin by noting that chiropractic care has become very popular for the pediatric population. They cite one study in 2007 which estimated that there were approximately 86 million pediatric visits made annually to chiropractors. Part of the conclusion from the previous study was that “…chiropractic care of children represents a significant aspect of not only the practice of chiropractic but also pediatric healthcare in general.”
Historically, chiropractic care for the pediatric population has been for a wide range of issues from chronic illness to wellness care. The researchers stated, “The treatment of musculoskeletal disorders such as neck pain and lowback pain as well as the promotion of health and wellbeing has been reported to be common motivations for seeking chiropractic care of children. However, studies that evaluated the frequency of, reasons for, and factors influencing CAM use and specialty pediatrics within the same geographic locale have also found evidence of the utilization of chiropractic care for children with chronic disease, including cancer, gastrointestinal disorders, cardiac problems, and neurological problems.” The term “CAM” is used in scientific literature to mean “complimentary and alternative medicine” in which chiropractic is included.
This study focused on the pediatric population between the ages of 8 and 17. This study used standardized tests that measured many factors to determine the QoL for the pediatric population who were under chiropractic care. A standardized questionnaire known as PROMIS, short for Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System, was given to the participants or their parents to be filled out. Then this information was scored to see if there was an effect on QoL from chiropractic care.
The data was collected by 88 chiropractors from practices all over the U.S. In total, 881 children participated with 467 being females and 414 being males. The mean age for children in this study was 12.49 years. Approximately 49% of the children were brought to the chiropractor for purely wellness purposes, while 27% were brought in for musculoskeletal conditions, and 23% for a variety of other health issues.
The study showed that 58% of the patients or their parents did not tell their medical doctor that they were receiving chiropractic care. Only 2% of the children were actually referred to the chiropractor by their medical doctor. Of the children in the study, 75% had not received medical care for the issue they sought chiropractic for, 15% had received prior medical care but were no longer under medical care for their issue, and 10% were receiving both chiropractic and medical care.
The results showed that the children were less likely to suffer from symptoms of depression, anxiety, fatigue, and pain interference after starting chiropractic care. According to the scores measured by the PROMIS survey, the children improved in all aspects of the QoL.
In their discussion, the authors noted that the study not only showed an improvement in the quality of life of children under chiropractic care, but it also gave some insight into why children are brought to the chiropractor. “In addition to determining the QoL of children under chiropractic care, this study also provided some interesting insights into the patterns and utilization of chiropractic services by this patient population.” They concluded, “The QoL of children improved with chiropractic care as measured by PROMIS.”