The Dangers of Bad Research
There was as article posted on the Forbes website last week about another article (are you following me?) published in a chiropractic magazine. The chiropractic article theorizes that certain interventions (provided by chiropractors) could be linked to repair at the DNA level. According to Forbes (I have not yet read the entire article), the chiropractic article never measured DNA repair and did not randomize or blind any of the study subjects. And yet, many chiropractor websites are using the study as evidence of their interventions.
Now, I'm not going to regurgitate the entire Forbes article. And, take what you will from the original chiropractor study (Titled: "Surrogate Indication of DNA Repair in Serum After Long-Term Chiropractic Intervention - A Retrospective Study." I am sure we could all dig and find many poorly designed physical therapy articles. What I will propose is this - how dangerous is poor research? What are the consequences of chiropractors using this study to promote their interventions, and the general public basing their opinion on those marketing efforts?
It's very easy to get caught up with exciting information. As clinicians, we may see improvements in function and in our interventions, and with that excitement may start connecting pieces of information that result in only one plausible explanation: Because I helped this patient, I must be influencing all of his improvements. We start taking more detailed notes, start making conclusions with the evidence we have - our treatment skills. We write a few pages of our work, and boom! It's published! ...Before we even had a chance to iron out the details.
Technology is a blessing and a curse, as my dad says. It's incredibly easy to post new information online, to connect with potential patients with eye-grabbing news updates. We have a new nutritionist! Come to our free health screenings! But we have to be careful about what we post. Our research must remain at the highest of standards, because the smallest mistake could cost years to rebuild a reputation. While we may get caught up in having the latest research, the newest information, don't let the "keeping-up-with-the-Joneses" attitude prevent us from being responsible clinicians.