Topics in Clinical Chiropractic 1999; 6 (2): 57–68
A cost comparison study between DC-provided care and care provided by general and specialist MDs for individuals with musculoskeletal conditions found that the majority of retrospective studies had positive results for chiropractic care.
Objective: To compare and summarize the costs of care provided by chiropractors and general and specialist medical providers for patients with musculoskeletal conditions.
Background: A number of retrospective studies based on workers' compensation and private insurance data and a few prospective studies have attempted to compare costs of chiropractic and medical treatment for musculoskeletal complaints.
Methods: A computer-aided search was performed to identify published papers comparing cost-effectiveness of chiropractic and medical care for common musculoskeletal conditions after 1980. Relevant data (authors; year of publication and data collection; location; study population; number of patients; average total, provider, and compensation cost; and controlled variables) were extracted by the author and summarized.
Results: A total of 5 prospective and 19 retrospective studies was identified. Twelve of the 24 studies were published since 1994. Sixteen of the 24 studies' average total costs favored chiropractic treatment.
Conclusion: The majority of retrospective studies in general report results in favor of chiropractic treatment. Three of the five prospective studies are in favor of medical treatment. None of the identified studies included all direct costs of care. Well designed prospective randomized studies that include complete economic analysis are needed.