This article provides insight into various research conducted to better understand the role of chiropractic students and what these types of studies tell us about this demographic.
The chiropractic student’s role in an interprofessional team is unclear
When different types of healthcare providers work together, it results in improved patient care. Each can use their knowledge to advance the health of the patient while promoting a treatment plan encompassing all of the patient’s conditions and needs. Yet, research reveals an interprofessional healthcare approach is not well-understood by chiropractic students.
In 2022, the Journal of Chiropractic Education published a study involving 247 chiropractic students in years one through three of chiropractic study. Each completed a 19-item readiness for interprofessional learning scale to better understand their perceptions of this type of healthcare.
Although most of their perceptions were positive, their responses also revealed these chiropractic students didn’t understand their role on an interprofessional team. This suggests more instruction may be needed in this area for additional clarification.
Chiropractic students’ knowledge, attitudes and behaviors are connected
Another piece of 2022 research was published in the Journal of Contemporary Chiropractic. This study involved 271 chiropractic students who were in quarters one through 13 at Palmer College of Chiropractic’s Florida campus. Data was collected regarding subjects’ knowledge of wellness, as well as their related attitudes and behaviors, and found they were interconnected.
As the students’ knowledge of wellness increased, they also tended to have an attitude toward developing a lifestyle that supported greater wellness. This appeared via their motivation to engage in certain actions, along with an increase in their intentionality. Additionally, as subjects’ wellness attitudes developed, this led to behavioral changes that supported a healthier lifestyle.
Based on these results, researchers indicated when chiropractic students are exposed to wellness programs, they have more positive health behaviors. This aligns with the Council on Chiropractic Education’s standards recommending that chiropractic schools engage in efforts to promote health and wellness.
Chiropractic students actively cope with stress versus trying to avoid it
Everyone deals with stress differently. Some people deal with their stressors directly while others develop a more avoidant response. According to yet a third study published in 2022, chiropractic students tend to fall into the first category with active coping strategies.
This study involved 407 students enrolled in chiropractic study. During the first week of the first quarter of classes, each subject completed a modified version of the Vitaliano Perceived Medical School Stress survey, which is used to assess the stress of undergraduates enrolled in medical school. They then took the survey again six months later, when they were in their third quarter of classes.
The subjects’ responses indicated they had higher perceived stress levels at the six-month mark. Additionally, most coped with their stress using active coping strategies such as planning versus engaging in avoidant strategies like using substances to reduce their stress.
What does this all mean?
Research studies such as these suggest that, overall, today’s chiropractic students are dealing with stress healthfully, and when provided wellness education, this positively influences their attitudes and behaviors.
While more instruction could help them better understand their role on an interprofessional healthcare team, many are on a good path with regard to their stress and wellness, which can help them in their future chiropractic role.