Since being named in 1998 to head the Consortial Center for Chiropractic Research (CCCR), Bill Meeker has been at the center of a burgeoning chiropractic research effort. Supported by the National Institutes of Health's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), CCCR is a joint endeavor that currently includes six chiropractic colleges and three state-supported universities. Its essential mission is twofold: to support high quality research projects and to create a sustainable chiropractic research infrastructure.
Meeker, who holds a chiropractic degree as well as a Masters in Public Health, has served since 1995 as director of the Palmer Center for Chiropractic Research, based at Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa. Prior to that, he was Dean of Research at Palmer College of Chiropractic-West in San Jose, California. The author or co-author of numerous articles published in peer-reviewed, scientific journals including Spine, and Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, Dr. Meeker is one of two chiropractors currently serving on the advisory board of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
In this interview with Dr. Daniel Redwood, Dr. Meeker discusses recent developments at NIH related to chiropractic and other complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) methods and explains why CAM approaches are sometimes held to higher standards than conventional medicine. He also describes an evolving chiropractic culture, in which research is beginning to move beyond its historic focus on proving chiropractic’s validity toward a future where its primary goal is the improvement of chiropractic practice.
For further information:
Palmer Center for Chiropractic Research
741 Brady Street
Davenport, Iowa 52803
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
P.O. Box 8218
Silver Spring, Maryland 20907-8218
Toll Free: 1-888-644-6226
DANIEL REDWOOD: In 1975, the National Institutes of Health sponsored a conference to evaluate the status of research on spinal manipulation. At that time, it was concluded that there was essentially no chiropractic research in the mainstream scientific literature. Since then, that situation has changed substantially for the better. What brought about the change?
BILL MEEKER: There has been a fair amount of clinical and basic science research published since 1975 that’s related to spinal manipulation. Some of that research has been done by chiropractors and some by non-chiropractors. That conference in 1975 legitimized manipulation as a credible research topic, even though it hadn't been decided at the time whether it was good, bad, or indifferent. It basically said to the rest of the world, "Here is a topic that needs to be investigated scientifically." That really was the genesis of the modern era of chiropractic research.
Within a decade after that, by 1985, the profession had started to put together the rudiments of a research infrastructure, started peer reviewed journals, started to run annual research conferences, and started to charge the colleges with the responsibility of conducting research. There were the beginnings of a cadre of people with the proper training, attempting to do both clinical and basic science research. Chiropractic colleges began putting together laboratories for research. That effort has grown in fits and starts over the years, until finally in 1994 there was enough clinical trial research to allow a government-sponsored consensus panel—from the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research [now the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality]—to basically endorse spinal manipulation as a safe and effective treatment for low back pain.