The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has initiated various approaches to provide chiropractic care to Veterans. Prior work has shown substantial increase in use of VA chiropractic care between fiscal years (FY) 2005-2016. However, the extent of the availability of these services to the Veteran population remains unclear. The purpose of this study was to analyze the rate of Veteran use of VA chiropractic services, both from on-site care at VA facilities and VA purchased care from community care providers. This study analyzed facility characteristics associated with chiropractic use by both care delivery mechanisms (on-site and in the community).
Cross-sectional analyses of administrative data were conducted for FY 2014-19. Data were obtained from VA’s Corporate Data Warehouse. The variables extracted included number of unique Veterans receiving VA chiropractic care on-site and in the community, total Veteran population of the VA facilities, size of the VA chiropractic workforce (measured as Full-Time Equivalent, FTE), and facility characteristics (geographic region and the facility complexity). Descriptive statistics, mixed model, and multivariant models were used to analyze data.
Use of VA chiropractic care increased over the six-year period for both on-site and community care. National average for on-site use of the population was 1.27% in FY14 and 1.48% in FY19. Community care use was 0.29% and 1.76% for the same years. Use at individual facilities varied widely in each FY. Factors such as chiropractor FTE, geographic locations, and the complexity of the VA facility are associated with use of chiropractic services.
The VA has expanded the non-pharmacologic treatments available to Veterans by providing chiropractic services, yet chiropractic use remains low compared to other US populations. As Veterans have a high prevalence of pain and musculoskeletal conditions, continued work to assess and achieve the optimal levels of chiropractic use in this population is warranted.