British Chiropractic Association: poor quality research on posture

The British Chiropractic Association (BCA) claims to represent a certain expertise regarding backs and bodies. BCA states that:

Chiropractic is a primary health-care profession that specialises in the diagnosis, treatment and overall management of conditions that are due to problems with the joints, ligaments, tendons and nerves of the body, particularly those of the spine.

I was therefore interested to see that they had released some research on posture in 2009, for the Straighten Up campaign which is linked to Chiropractic Awareness Week*. The BCA carried out some research into posture in the UK. Given the expertise claim for Chiropractic, I was expecting a detailed assessment of people’s posture in different circumstances (sitting, standing, walking etc.) However, the BCA’s website reports that:

New consumer research by the British Chiropractic Association shows that, in just two years, the incidence of poor posture appears to have risen at an alarming rate. Over half (56%) of the UK population currently believe they have a bad posture, compared to 38% in 2007, an increase of 16%.

There are big problems with self-assessment of posture: it can be hard to know whether you are holding yourself ‘right’. This type of self-reporting is therefore very problematic.

To make matters worse, I can’t seem to find basic details about this research on the BCA’s site : what questions were asked, the sampling of research subjects, the size of the sample, etc. This research – and the BCA’s publication of it – is therefore very weak. It is hard to see how one can draw meaningful conclusions from what is described on the BCA website. For an organisation which works to come across as a credible representative of healthcare professionals, publicising ‘consumer research’ in this way is really rather unfortunate.

* Which, pleasingly, this year coincided with the end of the BCA’s ill-fated libel case against science writer Simon Singh.

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6 Comments

Filed under patrick holford

6 responses to “British Chiropractic Association: poor quality research on posture

  1. Blue Wode

    If the following link is anything to go by, it looks like the research might have been carried out by Tickbox surveys:
    http://www.bodyactiveclinics.com/#/straighten-up/4522204827

  2. Well spotted, Blue Wode!

  3. Michael Kingsford Gray

    I shall venture that they are chiding themselves (mightily) for metaphorically kicking the science-nerds’ ant’s-nest.

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