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Chiropractic Journal of Australia : CJA September 2013
Chiropractic Journal of Australia Volume 43 Number 3 September 2013 105 Multidisciplinary Research Collaboration It was suggested that chiropractic researchers in Australia have been guilty of operating in silos6 and not being adequately involved in multidisciplinary research. Collaborative multidisciplinary research networks aim to enhance the scale of research, beneft from the varied expertise and stimulate innovation to generate new knowledge. Current research projects within the Department of Chiropractic at Macquarie University involve internal collaboration with Medicine, Physiotherapy, Cognitive Science, Chemistry and Biomolecular Sciences, and external institutions such as the University of Sydney Medical School – the George Institute for Global Health, the Children’s Hospital Institute of Sports Medicine Health, Westmead Centre for Oral Health, Marcs Institute for Brain and Behaviour and Sutherland Shire Hospital and region health. The recent growth in research networks outside the chiropractic discipline is of strategic importance and better positions the Department to investigate multidisciplinary solutions to complex healthcare problems. Inter-disciplinary collaborations are essential to advance the profle of chiropractic research and chiropractors in Australia. Danish chiropractors started their involvement with research mainly in epidemiology and with hindsight it was a very fruitful strategy to address general musculoskeletal topics and make strong alliances with existing research environments rather than having a very chiropractic focus. Now, Danish chiropractors are recognised researchers and experience no resistance to approaching any research topic as long as the methodology is sound. Professional Commitment to Research Development Lack of funding was identified as one limitation to chiropractic research in Australia. As highlighted by Mr Andrew McNamarra, CEO CAA, “if chiropractic is to survive in the mainstream of health care in Australia in the long term, it must fnd a way to leverage suffcient research dollars to sustain a viable research community”. In addition to the efforts of the CAA and the funding body the Australian Spinal Research Foundation, COCA has established a research fund (COCA Research Fund Ltd) to foster further research by chiropractors and osteopaths in Australia as well as to help establish early career researchers.7 A similar tool exists in Denmark to stimulate early career research and international collaboration called the Danish Chiropractic Research Stipend.8 However, the magnitude of funding that is required to stimulate chiropractic research in Australia is substantial.9 Immediately following the seminar a Chiropractic Leadership Summit was held in Melbourne on the 26th May 2013. Announced in a joint communique, the summit resolved that the profession would move towards raising research funds with a goal of $5million dollars annually from the profession.10 The chiropractic fund of Denmark could provide one such model, modifed to serve the requirements of the Australian chiropractic community. An important feature of any Australian model, given the paucity of level E academics (full professors) at this time, is that the board and in turn subsequent funding decisions be made by a multidisciplinary group with an established track record at gaining large and nationally competitive funding. Academic Pursuit of Large Nationally Competitive Funding While the funding goal set forth at the chiropractic leadership summit is commendable, profession-originated funding should only act as seed money on the progression towards larger publicly funded research supported by bodies such as the National Health and Medical Research Council and Australian Research Council. Success in gaining funding from these highly competitive schemes is important to the profle of chiropractic researchers and the chiropractic profession. Physiotherapy in Australia provides an excellent case example. The Australian Physiotherapy Association’s Physiotherapy Research Foundation (PRF) has been an important catalyst for change in physiotherapy. The PRF model of providing seed funding and supporting early career researchers is largely responsible for the physiotherapy profession's success in gaining nationally competitive funding. Up to 2008, physiotherapy researchers had acquired a total of $595million in NHMRC funding,11 and today enjoy in excess of $10million per annum in large nationally competitive funding. Chiropractic professional funding could be effectively used to establish a similarly tiered system of scholarships for young researchers, associated post-doctoral fellowships and research chair positions as well as accompanying tier-matched grants, all of which build track records that are required to be competitive for large external funding bodies. As per the Danish model, an independent centre for research excellence could be established, allowing an apolitical team the agility to embrace interdisciplinary collaborators. Once established, chiropractic researchers and research teams should become self-funded and sustainable through the publicly funded competitive granting system. CONCLUSIONS This paper reports Macquarie University's Chiropractic Research Seminar – Weekend Edition, held on the 25 May 2013, which formed part of an international scholarly visit. As an important step in moving towards evidence-based practice, chiropractic research seminars provide a forum for chiropractors to communicate their results and discuss issues surrounding chiropractic research. It has become clear that the chiropractic profession in Australia needs to increase its research output and profle to maintain and further its legitimacy in Australian health-care. A clear professional identity and an appropriately constructed research funding model which meets the unique needs of the profession are perhaps the two most important steps to securing signifcant and sustainable research into the future. There are many well established research models such as the Danish chiropractic model and the Australian physiotherapy model. A greater synergy must exist between Australian chiropractic institutions, academics and political/professional stakeholders in order to develop a viable Australian chiropractic research community moving forward. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS We thank Macquarie University’s Department of Chiropractic and the Faculty of Science for their fnancial support. We thank the Nordic Institute of Chiropractic and Clinical Biomechanics and the Institute of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics for endorsing the international visit. The seminar and international visit would not have been possible without the logistical support of Louella Almeida. RESEARCH SEMINAR REPORT SWAIN et al
CJA June 2013
CJA December 2013