Evidence Matters

because science reporting and decision-making should be evidence-based

Chiropractors accuse critics of “witch hunt” for examining evidence

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The case of Simon Singh vs the BCA (British Chiropractic Association) is prompting calls for a re-examination of the UK’s libel laws. Bloggers are responding by scrutinising some of the chiropractic claims that triggered this case and this has already resulted in changes to what chiropractors are willing to claim.

Andy Lewis of Quackometer is compiling a guide to these sceptical posts. Lewis says, “If the evidence won’t be discussed in court, it will be discussed on blogs. Evidence is more important than legal exchanges when it comes to understanding health”. The McTimoney Association calls such scrutiny a “witch hunt” but acknowledging that chiropractors should not make “any claims for treatment that cannot be substantiated with chiropractic research” they have advised members to take down their websites and remove patient information leaflets.

Professor Colquhoun is an eminent scientist and a pharmacologist at University College London. His candid opinions on his popular blog, Improbable Science, mean that he is regularly at the centre of controversy. Professor Colquhoun says, “the BCA’s suit against Simon Singh is attracting close scrutiny of chiropractic treatments for particular conditions. Especially now that the BCA says that they have “a plethora of medical evidence showing that the treatments work”.

Alan Henness of Zeno’s Blog looked through the websites of 300 BCA members. Although BCA members are advised to advertise in line with ASA adjudications, he reports that, “29% claim to treat colic, 25% whiplash, 23% bed-wetting, and 18% asthma. Some are offering interventions for hyperactivity, learning difficulties, OCD and even Tourette’s Syndrome”.

Recently, the ASA ruled that a chiropractor’s advertisement was wrong to claim to treat particular ailments, including IBS, colic, and learning difficulties (some of the conditions that Simon Singh had highlighted in his disputed article). ASA experts require good scientific evidence, attaching little weight to anecdotes or the outcome of badly-designed studies. The expert ruled that there isn’t “robust clinical evidence” to support such claims for chiropractic for conditions such as whiplash.

Andy Lewis says, “If the BCA won’t discuss their plethora of evidence for these claims, bloggers will do it for them”. Now that the McTimoney Association has advised its members to remove their websites from public scrutiny and is busily amending its information leaflets, Lewis says, “Perhaps other chiropractic associations will offer similar advice to their members or share their evidence so it can be examined in public”.


Written by oatmealts

June 10, 2009 at 1:40 pm

3 Responses

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  1. […] This post was Twitted by EvidenceMatters – Real-url.org […]

  2. […] Evidence Matters blog has some discussion about the developments along with a roundup of some important links and gives notice that if the ‘ plethora of evidence’ isn’t going to be presented by the BCA all the evidence will inevitably be dealt with in the blogosphere. […]

  3. […] the Thinking is Real blog, I am able to add the following links to my post: FNQhome; Evidence Matters; ziztur; Verbal Razors; skeptools; […]

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