Chiropractic Refusal to Engage

June 2, 2009 at 5:03 pm (Alternative Medicine, Chiropractic) (, , , , , , , , , )

[BPSDB] You may recall my recent correspondence with Bassett Chiropractic Clinics (the chiropractors whose website claims to be able to help with whiplash, contrary to the guidance given by the ASA – their clinics include St Albans Chiropractic Clinic, The Hertford Chiropractic Clinic, Watford Chiropractic Clinic, and Kings Langley Chiropractic Clinic). My most recent post is here and I have now received an email responding to my latest missive. It took this chiropractor three days to come up with this response:

You have my response, andI am not prepared to engagein further
correspondence with you on this matter.

I don’t know about you, but I am distinctly unimpressed with this response from Bassett Chiropractic Clinics. Given that they are refusing to engage with any of the points I have made, I see no point in attempting to contact this group of chiropractors in future and I have concluded that if I have any outstanding issues with Bassett Chiropractic Clinics it would be a better use of my time to inform the GCC of my views rather than send an email to someone who has already stated that they will not respond.

Science progresses through people criticising and reevaluating or reformulating ideas. Chiropractors such as those in charge of Bassett Chiropractic Clinics seem to be uninterested in this process of criticising, reevaluating, and reformulating ideas and I can only assume that they are therefore similarly uninterested in the progress of science. That many chiropractors still believe in vitalistic, pseudoscientific explanations for ill health [“Traditionally, chiropractic assumes that a vertebral subluxation or spinal joint dysfunction interferes with the body’s function and its innate intelligence”, according to Wikipedia.] does little to dispel this feeling I have that chiropractors are uninterested in the progress of science.

Anyway, I have now written an email to the GCC asking them to clarify section C 1.6 of their code of practice:

Dear Sirs/Mesdames,

I am writing to you in order to clarify whether chiropractors are allowed to publicise their clinics by making claims that are inconsistent with ASA guidance. I note that C1.6 in the GCC code of practice states that members are allowed to “publicise their practices or permit another person to do so consistent with the law and the guidance issued by the Advertising Standards Authority”. I further note that Advertising Standards Authority ruled against BritChiro due to a claim they made to be able to help with whiplash.[1] Finally, I note that Bassett Chiropractic Clinics claim on their website to be able to help with whiplash.[2]

Kind regards, [name]

[1]http://www.asa.org.uk/asa/adjudications/Public/TF_ADJ_44999.htm
[2]http://www.bassettchiropractic.co.uk/

I look forward to receiving a response from the GCC. Their code of practice is here as a PDF: http://www.gcc-uk.org/files/link_file/COPSOP_Dec05_WEB(with_glossary)07Jan09.pdf

More

I recently received a 3,116 word comment from somebody who I can only assume is a chiropractor (“Dr Pat”). According to another commenter, they had simply copied and pasted from the works of an anti-vaccination chiropractic lecturer, researcher and publisher (without crediting their source). This chiropractic lecturer, researcher and publisher (Tedd Koren, DC) had cited onference presentations, case reports, non-peer-reviewed books, articles published in journals not indexed on Pubmed, articles that do not refer to the effectiveness of chiropractic and as such should be considered irrelevant, rather small clinical trials, and self-reported improvements in patients rather than improvements on objective measures.

There seemed to be no awareness on the part of this chiropractic lecturer, researcher and publisher (or the plagiarist who reproduced this work in the comments section of my blog post) that the evidence they provided was, frankly, weak. I can only assume that when it comes to appraising evidence, chiropractors such as Tedd Koren DC and Dr Pat are unskilled and unaware of it*, as they have provided rather weak evidence to support chiropractic and have failed to cite robust evidence – e.g., systematic reviews.

These PDFs should help to explain what I mean by “unskilled and unaware of it”: Kruger-Dunning; Ehrlinger et al. Alternate link for the Ehrlinger paper: Ehrlinger_et_al_2008

Like Koren and Dr Pat, Bassett Chiropractic Clinics have also failed to properly cite decent evidence in favour of chiropractic: despite their referring to “numerous studies” supporting chiropractic treatment for headache and whiplash, only three studies were mentioned. No full citations (let alone links to the papers) were provided. A request for proper citations went unanswered. A systematic review that I referred to (that had found that there were no RCTs for chiropractic treatment of whiplash) was simply ignored (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15782244).

Despite Bassett Chiropractic’s failure to engage with my criticism, to comment on a systematic review, or to provide any full citation to any peer-reviewed, publicly published evidence (the best they managed was a mangled link to some guidelines produced by the New South Wales Motor Accidents Authority – PDF), the claim to be able to help with whiplash is still there on the front page of their website (cached url).

I have informed them of the weakness of the evidence for chiropractic in treating whiplash. I have informed them that the ASA stated that they “instructed an independent expert to assess the evidence BritChiro submitted in support of the treatment of whiplash and arthritis. Our expert concluded however that the studies were not sufficient to support efficacy claims for either condition.” Despite being informed of the weakness of the evidence for chiropractic in the treatment of whiplash, the claim still appears on their website and they refuse to enter into further discussion with me. Bassett Chiropractic Clinics, in spite of everything they have been told, still claim to be able to help with whiplash injuries. In future I shall refrain from engaging with individual chiropractors, as I am not interested in banging my head against a brick wall. The GCC seem like a better bet to me.

*EDIT 5th June: blogger apgaylard has now also referred to the inability of chiropractors to handle evidence objectively and notes that in his opinion it is likely an honest incapacity (he has also very kindly linked to my posts on the BCA and my recommended reading for chiropractors).

12 Comments

  1. Mojo said,

    “According to another commenter, they had simply copied and pasted…”

    Ah yes, the data dump. SOP for CAM.

    Sometimes they even forget that they’ve pasted their data dump into a blog, and paste it again, preceded by “you seem unaware of the meta-analyses that have shown efficacy…”, in response to a post that arose directly from the first one.

  2. Allo V Psycho said,

    But there is a positive result from your efforts. You have confirmed the existence of Innate Stupidity. Surely straight chiropractors will regard this as halfway to a desirable endpoint?

  3. jdc325 said,

    @Mojo – I can’t believe I didn’t predict the name of the data dumper you linked to. I must be slipping…

    @Allo V Psycho – thanks. It’s good to know my correspondence has not been in vain.

  4. Tristan said,

    Will be interested to see what the GCC have to say. I’ve blogged this here: http://cargo-cult-science.blogspot.com/2009/06/bassett-chiropractic-refuse-to-engage.html

  5. Simon Singh Case Response Roundup « God knows what… said,

    […] He then contacted the relevant clinic and asked them about the evidence for their claims and got some dismissive replies that were less than […]

  6. jdc325 said,

    @Tristan: thanks. It’s disappointing that Bassett Chiropractic have dug their heels in over their website claims and refused to continue to correspond. Jeremy Spanton’s response to your complaint was much more encouraging. Like you, I await the GCC response with interest.

  7. jdc325 said,

    Study on chiropractic for whiplash. I won’t spoil the surprise by telling you what the authors found: http://www.medicinescomplete.com/journals/fact/current/fact1402a05t01.htm

  8. Ignoreland: A Refusal To Engage « jdc325's Weblog said,

    […] least the Bassett Chiropractic Clinics sent me an email to tell me they wouldn’t engage in correspondence with me. What had I done […]

  9. anti said,

    “Everyone knows the importance of exercise. What tips do YOU have to impliment an exercise routine – into a busy schedule?”

  10. portland chiropractor said,

    I think we just need to focus on improving the chiropractic treatment so that there will be no complaints from the customers.

  11. jdc325 said,

    “I think we just need to focus on improving the chiropractic treatment so that there will be no complaints from the customers.”
    I think we need to improve provision of chiropractic treatment by ensuring it is used only for conditions where the evidence shows benefit. Do you disagree?

  12. Simon Singh and the British Chiropractic Association « Stuff And Nonsense said,

    […] My follow-up post included my initial email to them, their reply to this email, and my response to what I considered to be an inadequate reply. Further correspondence with them can be seen here and here. […]

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