The Research Crisis in American Institutions of Complementary and Integrative Health
One Proposed Solution for Chiropractic Profession
Published in: Chiropractic & Manual Therapies, Volume 27, Article number 32 (2019). doi: 10.1186/s12998-019-0251-1
A crisis confronts the Complementary and Integrative Health (CIH) teaching institutions in the US. Research infrastructure is needed to build and sustain productive research programs and retain their own research faculty. In most health professions, this infrastructure is largely built through research grants. In CIH, most educational institutions are funded through student tuition, which has historically also had to be the source for building their research programs. Only a limited number of these institutions have emerged as National Institute of Health (NIH) grant-funded programs. As a result, the American chiropractic institutions have seen a retrenchment in the number of active research programs. In addition, although research training programs e.g., NIH's K awards are available for CIH researchers, these programs generally result in these researchers leaving their institutions and depriving future CIH practitioners of the benefit of being trained in a culture of research.
One proposed solution is to leverage the substantial research infrastructure and long history of collaboration available at the RAND Corporation. This article presents the proposed five components of the RAND Center for Collaborative CIH Research and the steps required to bring it to being: 1) the CIH Research Network—an online resource and collaborative site for CIH researchers; 2) the CIH Research Advisory Board—the governing body for the Center selected by its members; 3) the RAND CIH Interest Group—a group of RAND researchers with an interest in and who could provide support to CIH research; 4) CIH Researcher Training—access to existing RAND research training as well as the potential for the Center to provide a research training home for those with training grants; and 5) CIH RAND Partnership for Research—a mentorship program to support successful CIH research. By necessity the first step in the Center's creation would be a meeting between the heads of interested CIH institutions to work out the details and to obtain buy-in.
The future success of CIH-directed research on CIH will require a pooling of talent and resources across institutions; something that the American chiropractic institutions have not yet been able to achieve. This article discusses one possible solution.