Satisfied lumbar radiculopathy patients

In Denmark, chiropractors offer patients with lumbar radiculopathy treatment in a standardised care package, that provides a management structure and logistics for patient care including time-fixed follow-up sessions. This study investigated patient satisfaction and explored patient perspectives on the chiropractic care packages for lumbar radiculopathy.

The study used an explanatory sequential mixed methods design with two separate phases. Phase one was a quantitative analysis based on a survey of a cohort of patients with lumbar radiculopathy included in a care package. Satisfaction with the examination, information, treatment effect, and overall management of their problem was rated on a scale of 0-10. In phase two, six semi-structured interviews were used to gain further explanatory insight into the findings from phase one. The quantitative and qualitative data were merged into a narrative joint display to obtain a deeper understanding of the overall results.

A total of 238 patients completed the survey. 80-90% were very satisfied (≥8/10) with the examination, information, and overall management, while around 50% were very satisfied with the treatment effect. Four themes emerged from the qualitative analysis: ‘Understanding the standardised care packages’, ‘Expectations of consultation and treatment effect’, ‘Information about diagnosis and prognosis’, and ‘Interdisciplinary collaboration’. The joint display analysis showed that high patient satisfaction with the examination could be explained by the patients feeling that they had been carefully and thoroughly examined by the chiropractor and by the referral to MRI. This gave patients confidence and reassurance about the diagnosis. Satisfaction was low if the examination was rushed or did not meet the patient’s expectations for referral to imaging. Patient education and information about variations in symptoms and the expected prognosis were considered reassuring, but patients were less satisfied if the information did not match their understanding of the disease. For example, if information was given about staying active that did not match the patient’s beliefs, this led to patient concern and distrust of the chiropractor. Satisfaction with the chiropractor’s coordination of care and referral to other health professionals was explained by patients’ positive experiences of coordinated care and reduced responsibility on their shoulders.    

In conclusion, patients were highly satisfied with the standardised chiropractic care packages for lumbar radiculopathy. From the patient’s perspective, the consultation should include a thorough examination, focus on communication and information about symptoms and prognosis, and address and align expectations about treatment content and effectiveness. Finally, chiropractors should coordinate interdisciplinary collaboration.

Read the full article in BMC Chiropractic & Manual Therapies:

Jensen, R.K., Lillesø, S., Jensen, J.S., Stochkendahl MJ. Patient expectations and levels of satisfaction in chiropractic treatment for lumbar radiculopathy. A mixed methods study. Chiropr Man Therap 2023.