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Fay Waiting, a registered chiropractor in South Manchester, outlines how supporting patients to take an active role in their health can lead to improved outcomes and an enhanced patient experience.

The needs and attitudes of patients are undoubtedly changing as more and more people take greater responsibility for their health and wellbeing. This shift represents an opportunity for the chiropractic profession to consider ways to enhance the patient experience and deliver even better outcomes for patients.

Just as awareness around the role of a chiropractor has grown in recent years, the number of people visiting a chiropractor for treatment is also increasing. According to the GCC’s public perceptions research, published earlier this year, only 15% of people had visited a chiropractor in 2004. By 2020 this had increased to 29%.

This is certainly reflected in my own practice and across the local area which is experiencing high demand for chiropractic treatment. There are undoubtedly several reasons for this rise in demand, not least the impact of working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic, but there is also a trend towards patients taking a more proactive approach to their health. My patients frequently highlight the importance of taking greater care of their health and fitness.

This is reinforced by the GCC’s public perceptions research which highlights how patients are looking for more than just the actual hands-on treatment when they visit a chiropractor. The importance of receiving care that includes exercises and self-management advice scores highly amongst patients.

As chiropractors we must be able to respond to the changing needs of our patients by providing a bespoke care plan that enables them to take control of their condition through self-management. I consider a valuable part of my role as a healthcare professional is to give advice to my patients about exercises that are not only suitable for their condition but also enjoyable and realistic such as walking or a Pilates class. In my experience, patients who follow exercise and self-management advice achieve better outcomes in the long-term and are more likely to stay pain or injury free.

Shared decision making

For many patients, taking control of their health also means having an active role in decisions around their treatment. According to the public perceptions research, it is extremely important to patients that decision-making is a shared process with input from both patient and practitioner.

Of course, for patients to take an active role in decision making it is important they are fully informed about their treatment options. This includes having a good understanding of the benefits and risks of treatment. To support shared decision making, it is our responsibility to provide all the necessary information before embarking on treatment.

Having patients fully involved in their treatment is a positive. It not only improves the overall patient experience but, importantly, can lead to enhanced patient outcomes.


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