The following are three new papers that I found interesting and intriguing and thought you would benefit by knowing about. They give us pause for thought.
1. Mirtz TA, Hebert JH, Wyatt LH. Attitudes of non-practicing chiropractors: a pilot survey concerning factors related to attrition. Chiro Osteop 2010;18:29 doi:10.1186/1746-1340-18-29
Background: Research into attitudes about chiropractors who are no longer engaged in active clinical practice is non-existent. Yet non-practicing chiropractors (NPCs) represent a valid sub-group worthy of study. Aim: The purpose of this research was to assess attrition attitudes of NPCs about the chiropractic profession and develop a scale to assess such attitudes.
Methods: A 48 item survey was developed using the PsychData software. This survey included 35 Likert-style items assessing various aspects of the profession namely financial, educational, psychosocial and political. An internet discussion site where NPCs may be members was accessed for recruitment purposes.
Results: A total of 70 valid responses were received for analysis. \. A majority of respondents were male with 66% being in non-practice status for 3 to 5 years and less with 43% indicating that they had graduated since the year 2000. Most respondents were employed either in other healthcare professions and non-chiropractic education. A majority of NPCs believed that business ethics in chiropractic were questionable and that overhead expense and student loans were factors in practice success. A majority of NPCs were in associate practice at one time with many believing that associates were encouraged to prolong the care of patients and that associate salaries were not fair. Most NPCs surveyed believed that chiropractic was not a good career choice and would not recommend someone to become a chiropractor. From this survey, a 12 item scale was developed called the "chiropractor attrition attitude scale" for future research. Reliability analysis of this novel scale demonstrated a coefficient alpha of 0.90.
Conclusion: The low response rate indicates that findings cannot be generalized to the NPC population. This study nonetheless demonstrates that NPCs attrition attitudes can be assessed. The lack of a central database of NPCs is a challenge to future research. Appropriate investigation of attrition within the chiropractic profession would be helpful in the analysis of attitudes regarding both chiropractic education and practice. Further research is needed in this area.
2. Langworthy J, Forrest L. Withdrawal rates as a consequence of disclosure of risk associated with manipulation of the cervical spine: a survey. Chiro Osteop 2010;18:27 doi: 10.1186/1746-1340-18-27
Background: The risk associated with cervical manipulation is controversial. Research in this area is widely variable but as yet the risk is not easily quantifiable. This presents a problem when informing the patient of risks when seeking consent and information may be witheld due to the fear of patient withdrawal from care. As yet, there is a lack of research into the frequency of risk disclosure and consequent withdrawal from manipulative treatment as a result. This study seeks to investigate the reality of this and to obtain insight into the attitudes of chiropractors towards informed consent and disclosure.
Methods: Questionnaires were posted to 200 UK chiropractors randomly selected from the register of the General Chiropractic Council.
Results: A response rate of 46% (n=92) was achieved. Thirty-three per cent (n=30) of respondents were female and the mean number of years in practice was 10. Eighty-eight per cent considered explanation of the risks associated with any recommended treatment important when obtaining informed consent. However, only 45% indicated they always discuss this with patients in need of cervical manipulation. When asked whether they believed discussing the possibility of a serious adverse reaction to cervical manipulation could increase patient anxiety to the extent there was a strong possibility the patient would refuse treatment, 46% said they believed this could happen. Nonetheless, 80% said they believed they had a moral/ethical obligation to disclose risk associated with cervical manipulation despite these concerns. The estimated number of withdrawals throughout respondents' time in practice was estimated at 1 patient withdrawal for every 2 years in practice.
Conclusion: The withdrawal rate from cervical manipulation as a direct consequence of the disclosure of associated serious risks appears unfounded. However, notwithstanding legal obligations, reluctance to disclose risk due to fear of increasing patient anxiety still remains, despite acknowledgement of moral and ethical responsibility.
3. Peets AD, Cooke L, Wright B, Coderre S, McLaughlin K. A prospective randomized trial of content expertise versus process expertise in small group teaching. BMC Medical Education 2010, 10:70 doi:10.1186/1472-6920-10-70
Background: Effective teaching requires an understanding of both what (content knowledge) and how (process knowledge) to teach. While previous studies involving medical students have compared preceptors with greater or lesser content knowledge, it is unclear whether process expertise can compensate for deficient content expertise. Therefore, the objective of our study was to compare the effect of preceptors with process expertise to those with content expertise on medical students' learning outcomes in a structured small group environment.
Methods: One hundred and fifty-one first year medical students were randomized to 11 groups for the small group component of the Cardiovascular-Respiratory course at the University of Calgary. Each group was then block randomized to one of three streams for the entire course: tutoring exclusively by physicians with content expertise (n = 5), tutoring exclusively by physicians with process expertise (n = 3), and tutoring by content experts for 11 sessions and process experts for 10 sessions (n = 3). After each of the 21 small group sessions, students evaluated their preceptors' teaching with a standardized instrument. Students' knowledge acquisition was assessed by an end-of-course multiple choice (EOC-MCQ) examination.
Results: Students rated the process experts significantly higher on each of the instrument's 15 items, including the overall rating. Students' mean score (±SD) on the EOC-MCQ exam was 76.1% (8.1) for groups taught by content experts, 78.2% (7.8) for the combination group and 79.5% (9.2) for process expert groups (p = 0.11). By linear regression student performance was higher if they had been taught by process experts (regression coefficient 2.7 [0.1, 5.4], p < .05), but not content experts (p = .09).
Conclusions: When preceptors are physicians, content expertise is not a prerequisite to teach first year medical students within a structured small group environment; preceptors with process expertise result in at least equivalent, if not superior, student outcomes in this setting.