OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to compare treatment outcomes of low back pain patients depending on the sex of the treating doctor of chiropractic (DC).
METHODS: For this study, 1095 adult patients with no manual therapy in the prior 3 months were recruited. Pretreatment pain levels (Numeric Rating Scale for pain [NRS]), Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), and patient demographic details were recorded. The NRS and Patient Global Impression of Change were assessed after 1 week and 1, 3, 6, and 12 months. The ODI was completed up to 3 months. The χ(2) test compared sex of the DC with the proportion of patients "improved" at all time points and with baseline categorical variables. The unpaired t test compared changes in NRS and ODI scores between patients of male and female DCs.
RESULTS: Female DCs saw proportionally more acute patients (P = .012). Patients of male DCs presented more often with radiculopathy (P = .007). There were no differences in NRS and ODI baseline scores between male and female DCs' patients. At 1 week and 3 and 12 months, significantly more patients of female DCs reported improvement and they had greater decreases in NRS and ODI scores at 1 week. Removing acute patients from the data, there were no longer differences in outcome.
CONCLUSIONS: Significant differences in treatment outcome in favor of female DCs was no longer present on removal of the acute subgroup from the data. This suggests that patient outcome is influenced by other factors, such as chronicity, rather than sex of the treating DC.