AUSTRALIAN CHIROPRACTIC RESEARCH NETWORK (ACORN)
CAA National has provided significiant funding to support the Australian Chiropractic Research Network (ACORN) project.
This world first longitudinal study into chiropractic (ACORN) was launched in 2014. The study is funded by CAA National and will be completed by The Australian Research Center in Complementary and Integrative Medicine (ARCCIM) at UTS under the leadership of Professor Jon Adams. It directly involves practitioners and patients from over 1000 clinics.
ARCCIM houses world-leading expertise in a broad range of health research methods and disciplines in the study of Complementary Medicine such as health economics, health social science, health services research, biostatistics and epidemiology. ARCCIM research staff have attracted over $7m in competitive research grant funding in CM.
Its research agenda is to examine complementary and integrative medicine treatments, practice and professional issues. ARCCIM’s mission is:
- to develop research capacity in CM research (including promoting research skills amongst practitioners).
- to promote excellence in health research examining CM use, CM practice, CM-conventional health care integration, health economics of CM and health services and research of safety, affordability and effectiveness of CM.
- to promote and foster closer ties between CM researchers and practitioners to ensure scholarship includes practitioner input where relevant and is reflective of practice-realities and needs.
The Australian Chiropractic Research Network Longitudinal Program is the first national, longitudinal and sustainable practice-based research network program focused upon chiropractic worldwide. The program is designed to address research questions of clinical and practice significance via a mixed-method approach with particular emphasis upon:
- affordability and cost-effectiveness
- wellbeing, health promotion and prevention
- patient motivations, experiences and satisfaction/evaluations of chiropractic care.
A core feature is the development of ‘sub-studies’ able to focus upon areas of practice and issues central to chiropractic in Australia. Such sub-studies can focus upon any aspect of chiropractic (eg paediatrics). It is inherently inclusive and expansive with opportunities for all within the chiropractic research community to engage and co-research via secondary analysis, initiating new sub-studies and/or utilising ACORN as a national recruitment resource.
It will establish a sustainable database for ongoing chiropractic research development. The program focus and output will be of practice and policy benefit and will provide excellent promotion opportunities for chiropractic in relation to funding bodies, policymakers and government.
The study has a number of interrelated yet distinct aims. These are to:
- Produce extensive, quality research output (evidence-based) focused upon chiropractic in relation to the issues of efficacy, affordability and cost-efficiency, safety, wellbeing, health promotion and prevention, patient motivation, experience and satisfaction/evaluation.
- Establish a sustainable, national longitudinal research resource (national database) for chiropractic in Australia.
- Provide a solid platform for future applications to NHMRC/ARC for external grant funding.
- Develop extensive partnerships and collaborations across the chiropractic research community and beyond.
- Develop national research capacity in chiropractic (especially via facilitating PHDs).
- Improve chiropractic research public relations/promotion.
- Directly impact health practice and policy.
- Improve the standing of chiropractic in Australia more broadly.
There are three stages to the program.
Stage 1 – Systematic and Critical Integrative Reviews
There will be a minimum of two systematic/critical integrative reviews of key practice areas. These reviews will be conducted and managed by the ARCCIM team with input from the CAA where relevant. These reviews will provide an evaluation of the current evidence-base for selected practice topics/issues such as chiropractic and paediatrics and chiropractic and wellness/health promotion amongst others.
Stage 2 – Practitioner-Focused Recruitment and Quantitative Data Collection
This data collection phase (Phase 2) provides both initial data for analysis and acts as the essential national recruitment drive for the latter phases of the ACORN longitudinal program. All CAA members currently practising will be approached and recruited for the program. This will provide an excellent, nationally-representative sample of chiropractors. All respondents will be forwarded a questionnaire seeking self-reported data on a number of topics including:
- practice orientation and features (areas of interest and expertise)
- safety and benefits of chiropractic
- decision-making and information seeking/sources
- communication with patients.
Stage 3 – Patient-Focused Quantitative and Qualitative Longitudinal Data Collection
This section of the program design will provide extensive opportunity to examine patient motivation for, experience of and satisfaction with chiropractic care and measure the effectiveness of chiropractic care and treatments (over time) including impacts on pain, quality of life and financial costs. Recruitment for this section of data collection will be through those practitioners recruited in the previous section. Practitioners will be requested to administer a questionnaire to a sample of patients (recruited over a time period and with specific characteristics in mind eg suffering from low back pain or headaches). This data collection will be longitudinal in design, following a cohort of patients over a specified time period.
The ACORN longitudinal program will produce an extensive range of research outputs including a wide-range of peer-reviewed journal articles (over the three years of the funded-phases of the program and beyond). A minimum of 12 peer-reviewed journal articles will be produced over the three years. The total journal manuscript output of the ACORN longitudinal program will have the capacity to be much higher than this minimum number depending upon output from sub-studies. The program will also facilitate PhDs in chiropractic via sub-studies.
In addition to peer-reviewed journal articles, dissemination will also be via presentations to the CAA (regional and national meetings) and other opportunities to reach the chiropractic community and important external stakeholders including policymakers and government agencies (such as NHMRC). All findings will be reported on the ARCCIM website and media releases will be undertaken where relevant. International dissemination will be via international networks such as NORPHCAM and the ISCMR and via international presentations at relevant chiropractic and health meetings and conferences.
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