Stephen Perle, DC, professor of clinical sciences in the College of Chiropractic at the University of Bridgeport, wanted something like that too. So he built it.
“It’s pretty common for someone on our faculty to ask me, ‘What evidence do we have for X?’ I am blessed with a good memory and good computer resources, and I can find stuff,” says Dr. Perle. He found that he was getting many similar questions from colleagues in the International Federation of Sports Chiropractic (Fédération Internationale de Chiropratique du Sport – FICS). And then ACA Past President Keith Overland, DC, asked him if ACA’s research advisory committee could create an expert-vetted resource of chiropractic evidence.
The committee gave it a valiant effort but couldn’t develop a viable plan. “It seemed like what was called for was a constant, comprehensive systematic review, which didn’t seem possible given the resources we had,” Dr. Perle says.
At a standstill, he began brainstorming with colleagues Michael Schneider, DC, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Physical Therapy, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh and the only chiropractic physician so far to receive a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) grant, and Greg Kawchuk, DC, PhD, professor of rehabilitation medicine and physical therapy at the University of Alberta, who had been fielding similar requests for an evidence tool from the World Federation of Chiropractic (WFC).
Free, Accessible and Updated
Together, the three men conceived the WFC Suggested Reading List (wfcsuggestedreadinglist.com
), a website that houses a suggested reading list curated by the profession that is accessible to all. “I think we had the bones of it after one call,” Dr. Perle says. The organizers were adamant that since it would be a worldwide resource, the reading list should be housed under the auspices of the WFC and remain free and accessible to all.
Currently, the site indexes a list of 10 important papers for 14 health conditions and health categories ranging from acute low-back pain to intervertebral disc to pediatrics to wellness. There are also reading lists for guidelines, safety, mechanisms and professional issues, such as ethics and economics. Users can read each paper on the site by topic or search all papers by keyword.
The lists aren’t “top 10” lists, Dr. Kawchuk stresses. “What people have been asking for is, literally: ‘What do we need to read to get up to speed on a particular topic? If I want to know about headache, give me ten resources that would help me understand the evidence in this area.’ That’s the thing we thought was really needed in the profession.”
To generate repeat visits to the reading list, each week the site features a new paper that’s not on any of the topic lists. “These are papers that have just come out within the last few weeks and are of interest to the profession,” says Dr. Kawchuk. Recently, for example, the featured paper was a Cochrane review on interventions for preventing and treating low-back and pelvic pain during pregnancy.
The site has been up and running for more than a year, and it’s built up to about 200 hits daily. Reaction from users has so far been very positive, according to Dr. Kawchuk. “People have said to us, ‘I’ve been waiting for something like this for decades!’ or ‘You’ve saved our group so much work and time!’ Different groups and individuals are using the lists to help plan talks in their communities, conduct advocacy with government/ insurance and, of course, to help educate patients. One application for the reading list we didn’t anticipate was that it would be used as a resource for teaching. We’re hearing from instructors that they are planning to use lists in their classes to help students focus their learning in specific topics,” he says.
The first major update to the reading list was rolled out in January 2016. “We stayed with the same fundamental content nodes we have, but other areas were also being considered, such as posture. In each topic area, we reviewed whether the ten papers we had were still the ten that are most useful for understanding that topic, or if some need to be voted off the island in favor of other papers,” says Dr. Perle.
Dr. Kawchuk adds, “It’s important to us that the majority of these papers are accessible to anyone. Presently, about 80 percent of our papers meet that criterion. The remaining 20 percent require some form of subscription or payment. As the list moves forward, we are exploring ways to provide 24/7 access to all the papers on all the lists.”
“We may be in research and academia, but we do not forget what it’s like to be a chiropractor in practice and one who didn’t learn any of this stuff in chiropractic college,” says Dr. Perle. “Our motivation in creating this site is to make evidence-based practice more reasonable and accessible to the average doctor of chiropractic in practice.”
Join the WFC Reading List!
To keep up with the reading list, you can follow it on Twitter at @WFCReadingList, like it on Facebook at www.facebook.com/WFCSuggestedReadingList
, and sign up for the newsletter or email the coordinators on the site’s contact page at www.wfcsuggested readinglist.com/#contact.
Gina Shaw is a contributing writer.