November 23, 2009 — The Wolfe-Harris Center for Clinical Studies (WHCCS) at Northwestern Health Sciences University has earned an international reputation as a leader in clinical research for complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatments.
The center’s efforts to secure federal funding for research studies offers just a glimpse into the activities of the WHCCS.
The research team at Northwestern is led by Gert Bronfort, DC, PhD, vice president of research; and Roni Evans, DC, MS. In addition to obtaining the federal grant funding, Drs. Bronfort and Evans direct an active research faculty and staff that is continually pursuing a number of projects, as well as speaking and presenting at conferences around the world. Here are some recent highlights:
• Bronfort was recently commissioned by the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) to write a report summarizing the research evidence regarding manual therapies. The BCA and the United Kingdom General Chiropractic Council has come under intense public scrutiny and pending litigation due to a large number of false-advertising claims filed against field practitioners. The purpose of the report was to help sort out what can and cannot be claimed about the effectiveness of chiropractic care, particularly manual therapies. The report is expected to be published in a peer-review journal in late 2009 or early 2010;
• Bronfort and Evans were keynote speakers at the British Chiropractic Association Conference held in Wales, England, in October 2009. The main focus of their talk was to provide a summary of the research evidence regarding manual therapies based on the report to the BCA, and the efforts Northwestern is making to train evidence-informed practitioners through the CAM Research Education Project;
• Evans was appointed to serve on the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) Special Emphasis Panel, which will review all fellowship applications for that agency;
• The second stage of planning meetings for a National Institutes of Health-funded center grant will take place between faculty from the University of Minnesota and Bronfort and Evans. They are working on a collaborative proposal for funding a multi-million-dollar center focused on the mechanisms of low back pain and spinal manipulations to submit in the spring of 2010;
• Progress continues on a project between the Volunteers of America (VOA) and Northwestern. Led by Kristne Westrom, MD, MS, associate professor, four fellows are currently providing chiropractic care, acupuncture and oriental medicine, and massage therapy in VOA facilities, and collecting outcomes-based data;
• The NCCAM-funded CAM Research Education Project led by Evans and Mary Jo Kreitzer, PhD, from the University of Minnesota Center for Spirituality and Healing, successfully completed the second of four years of planned activities. This included the design and implementation of new Foundations of Evidence Informed Practice courses in the chiropractic, acupuncture and Oriental medicine, and massage therapy programs.
• The Integrative Health Care Study led by Bronfort and Maiers, has enrolled 100 percent of its target sample of 200. Data will continue to be collected for one year, and is slated to be completed by July 2010;
• The Back-Related Leg Pain Study has completed recruitment of the needed 122 participants. This federally-funded study is directed by Bronfort, and Craig Schultz, DC, MS, assistant professor, in collaboration with the Palmer Center for Chiropractic Research. Data will continue to be collected until July 2010;
• In September 2009, Michele Maiers, DC, MPH, associate dean of research and knowledge transfer attended the American Chiropractic Association House of Delegates meeting in Dallas, Texas;
• Maiers presented “Integrative Approaches to Patient Care at Northwestern Health Sciences University” at the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, Pa., November 2009; and
• Corrie Vihstadt, MOm, project manager/VOA fellow, will present “A Research-Based Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Fellowship Program in Geriatrics;” and Lori Baldwin, LAc, MOm, assistant professor/VOA fellow, will present “Assessing Residents and/or Family Members’ Perceptions of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, Chiropractic, and Massage Therapy in Volunteers of America Assisted Living and Long-Term Care Facilities;” at the Society for Acupuncture Research, Chapel Hill, N.C., in March 2010.
Source: Northwestern Health Sciences University, www.nwhealth.edu/nwtoday/index.html