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Marc Sanders is a chiropractor based in Camberley, Surrey and a PhD student at University of Southampton School of Medicine.

The COVID-19 lockdown has been an extremely difficult period for all UK chiropractors, myself included. We have had to adapt in ways that we could not have previously imagined. Today’s chiropractic care looks very different to ordinary life in the clinic. Yet despite the financial hardships, during the pandemic, we have all stuck by our patients and cared for them as best as we could. One of the ways we have been able to keep in touch and connect with our patients is through remote consultations via voice or video calls.

During the initial stages of lockdown, I joined a few UK chiropractic researchers, including those from the Chiropractic Research Council-funded unit at the University of Southampton, to run a study around remote consultations in chiropractic. It uses a cross-sectional survey to explore the use of remote consultations and the views of chiropractors and patients towards them. As far as we are aware it is the first study of its kind in chiropractic and has involved about 20% of our profession. The results are currently being written up for potential publication and dissemination in the coming months. 

I would like to thank every chiropractor who kindly gave their time to participate in the study, including our UK organisations who helped to disseminate the survey. Such a collaboration of researchers, chiropractors and chiropractic organisations is a testament to what our UK profession can achieve, supporting working chiropractors and benefiting our profession in the wider health sphere. 

As is part and parcel of the research process, while the results will provide insights into changes in chiropractic care provision, many questions will be left unanswered. How will we continue to use remote consultations beyond the COVID-19 crisis? How can we blend remote consultations with hands-on care for routine or select clinical contexts? Could remote consultations grow our clinical reach, providing a form of chiropractic care to a demographic that would otherwise be unable to access it? 

Whilst it is neither likely nor desirable that we replace hands-on care completely, we may have, through the necessity of circumstances, started to use a form of care that will benefit patients in ways that we had not thought possible. Chiropractic is, and always has been, a profession that uses a variety of interventions and supportive care, delivered at appropriate points according to the clinician’s judgment and tailored to an individual patient’s journey of care. It has never been a single intervention. In this context, if chiropractors embrace all available methods - both old and new - for the benefit of the patient, remote consultations make for one more tool in the profession’s toolbox to deliver excellent chiropractic care.


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