Current & Past Projects

CCRF invests in evidence-based research to cost-effectively improve health outcomes for the over 11 million Canadians living with musculoskeletal pain and disability.

Thanks to the generosity of our funders and our league of clinicians and private supporters, CCRF is proud to have invested close to $900,000 in these research projects:

Title: C-prior: Implementation of the MAINTAIN instrument for patients with dysfunctional spinal pain – a randomized clinical trial

Partial Award: $45,000  
Lead: Dr. Martha Funabashi, Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (CMCC)
Impact: This randomized clinical trial will investigate the implementation of the MAINTAIN instrument in clinical practice and tracking its effectiveness and cost-effectiveness compared to standard chiropractic care.



Title: Does the use of paramedical health services influence the care trajectory of patients with chronic spinal pain?

Award: $12,060

Lead: Dr. Marc-André Blanchette, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR)

Impact:  This project will provide valuable information for clinicians to improve care for chronic spinal pain patients; for professional colleges/associations to improve practice guidelines; and for decision-makers who need evidence to help determine optimal use of paramedical healthcare. 


Title: The development of a global tracer indicator to measure effective coverage for rehabilitation of low back pain

Award: $29,800

Leads: Dr. Jessica Wong/Dr. Pierre Côté, University of Ontario Institute of Technology  

Impact: In partnership with the WHO, this project will develop a much-needed metric for rehabilitation of LBP from health care providers, including chiropractors. It will be used in high-impact global studies (like the Global Burden of Disease Study) to advance the goal for all people to receive high-quality services and rehabilitation for optimal health and function. This is the first research project of its kind led by university-based chiropractors in Canada. 


Title: Identifying spine care needs, and perceived barriers to accessing evidence-based spine care in northern Manitoba: A Global Spine Care Initiative implementation project
Partial Award: $45,000

Leads: Dr. André Bussières/Dr. Steven Passmore, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR)

Impact: Pimicikamak, Manitoba (Cross Lake First Nation) has a largely indigenous population with underserved spine care needs. This project will determine the nature and impact of spinal disorders in the community and identify factors which may to impact the community’s ability to adopt healthcare approaches intended to improve the health of its residents.



Title: Lived Experiences with Symptomatic Degenerative Cervical Radiculopathy: The Patients’ Perspectives
Partial Award: $5,000

Lead: Dr. Joshua Plener, Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (CMCC)

Impact: DCR is expected to increase in prevalence as our population ages. Understanding its biopsychosocial impact will improve patient-centered care and develop effective non-operative interventions which can be used in interdisciplinary healthcare settings. It will also inform future studies and lead to the development of a high-quality, evidence-based intervention protocol.


Title: Adaptation of chiropractic care in the aging population: exploration of the views and beliefs of chiropractors
Award: $15,200

Leads: Dr. Isabelle Pagé/Dr. Julie-Marthe Grenier, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR)

Impact:This project will explore chiropractors’ perspectives on the clinical management, safety and effectiveness of chiropractic care for our aging population. This will be followed by subsequent studies to evaluate whether their beliefs are supported by evidence and whether other aspects should be considered.

Title: Quantitative Validation of the heat capsaicin model of pain induction for the low back

Award: $28,600

Lead: Dr. Diana De Carvalho, Memorial University of Newfoundland 

Impact:  This study explores the validation of pain induction for the purpose of studying low back pain (LBP). It’s the first study to:
1) validate the heat-capsaicin model of pain induction in the low back
2) to compare biomarkers in the heat-capsaicin induction and sitting-induced LBP induction procedures, and
3) to compare subjective pain ratings to these objective measures. The findings of this study will provide the foundation for future LBP research for decades to come. 

Promotion of Physical Activity by Postpartum Women with Lumbopelvic Pain

Award: $10,000

Lead: Dr. Heather Hollman, University of Victoria   

Impact: This 3-in-1 project will promotephysical activity, decreased pain, and improved function in postpartum women with lumbopelvic pain by reviewing physical activity, determining the barriers to exercise faced by new mothers, and developing virtual health delivery through communication and monitoring of physical activity and rehabilitation. 


TitleWhat is the effect of chiropractic or physiotherapy on medical health utilization and costs in adults with low back pain? A population-based matched cohort study.
Award: $47,000

Lead: Dr. Jessica Wong, Doctoral Candidate, Epidemiology Division, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto

Impact: This is the first study to assess the effects of chiropractic and physiotherapy on medical care utilization costs in Canada. This research leverages novel data that captures all medical encounters and direct person-level costs over a 15-year period in a population-based sample of Ontario adults with back pain.


Title: The role of sensitization and sensorimotor integration in understanding the biological basis of Chiropractic
Award: $26,600

Lead: Nicolas Antony, Ontario Tech University

Impact: Chronic musculoskeletal pain is burden for the people who suffer with it and for health care systems. This study seeks to advance effective treatment strategies by evaluating neurophysiologic mechanisms of motor control during central sensitization states and chronic neck pain. This involves determining the neurophysiological effects of central sensitization (CS), on motor control/sensorimotor integration and identifying whether spinal manipulative therapy can play a role in normalizing sensorimotor integration in central sensitization states. 


Title: The clinical course of spinal pain in adolescents: a feasibility study
Partial Award: $20,000

Lead: Dr. Michael Swain, Macquarie University, Parker University

Impact: This study will provide better understanding of adolescent patients with MSK pain and is an essential first step to conducting a definitive clinical cohort study on this important but under researched group. It will break new ground in the recruitment and follow up of young people seeking care and lead to new care models for early-on episodes of spinal pain that may inform preventative efforts to reduce the impact of chronic-recurrent spinal pain later in life. Testing will be done by multi-site team of collaborators in Canada and the United States.

Status: Awarded $63,000

Title: The Effect of Cervical Spinal Manipulation on Brain Functional Connectivity Using Magnetic Resonance Neuroimaging in Patients with Chronic Neck Pain

Lead: Dr. Felipe Duarte, Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College

Purpose: To track neuroplastic effects of a single cervical spinal manipulation – and SMT applied over time – on functional connectivity in the brains of patients with chronic neck pain.

Impact: This is the first FMRI study of its kind on the cervical spine which will provide important data needed to fill gaps in current knowledge. It’s also the first study that will measure both short and long-term effects of SMT on brain function and how these neuroplastic effects might change over time. This evidence may lead to a significant increase in credibility for the chiropractic profession.

Status: Awarded $10,000

Title: Advancing the conceptualization and assessment of pain-related suffering

Lead: Dr. Peter Stilwell, McGill University

Purpose: To develop research supported understanding of pain-related suffering associated with MSK conditions and identify gaps in the way current literature defines and grades pain related problems.

Impact: This study seeks to discover how patients feel their suffering is prioritized by practitioners. This will lead to a better understanding of people with painful MSK issues, address gaps related to the assessment of pain-related suffering and improve the patient experience during the initial assessment and treatment.

Status: Awarded $44,000

Title: The Association of Chiropractic Integration with Opioid Use for Chronic Non-Cancer Pain in an Ontario Health Care Centre: A Mixed Methods Study.

Lead: Dr. Peter Emary, McMaster University, Departments of Health Research Methodology; Michael J. DeGroote Institute for Pain Research and Care

Purpose: To examine the relationship between chiropractic integration and opioid use among vulnerable patients in a Community Health Centre (CHC).

Impact: This study directly addresses one of the country’s most pressing public health crises – opioid addiction. It’s the first study of its kind to track whether the receipt of chiropractic services can reduce opioid use among patients already using prescription opioids. It also seeks to identify improvements in quality of life and other qualitative areas that may prove unique to chiropractic intervention and help validate outcomes seen in practice.

Status: Awarded $16,000

Title: Tracking the impact of clinical care among patients with chronic lower back pain: the utility of performance-based measures of physical function and impairment

Lead: Dr. Sheilah Hogg-Johnson, Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College

Purpose: To determine how specific performance-based measures correlate with disability reported by patients with chronic lower back pain.

Impact: The goal of this study is to determine whether patient assessments can be improved by adding function tests to questionnaires and to see if changes perceived by patients are supported by functional changes. This will help chiropractors assess patients more effectively and improve patient satisfaction. This team includes high level female investigators and is an international (Danish) collaboration.

Status: Awarded $5,000

Title: Is there a correlation between NMSK disorders and breast pain in breast feeding mothers seeking chiropractic care: A case series

Lead: Dr. Chantale Doucet, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières

Purpose: To investigate the association between nipple pain and MSK dysfunction

Impact: The biomechanics of breastfeeding and post partum body changes are areas in need of research. In addition to providing much needed data for chiropractors and the profession, this study addresses a broader issue beyond MSK and will lay critical groundwork for future studies and trials.

Status: Awarded $52,000

Title: Is a funded, integrated pathway for low back pain a feasible way to shift health resource utilization from low value to high value care?

Lead: Dr. Greg Kawchuk, University of Alberta

Purpose: This study seeks to compare a pathway of evidence-based treatment for patients with lower back pain against the standard of usual care.

Impact: Governments and health insurance companies spend a significant amount of money on treatment for patients with chronic lower back pain. This study seeks to discover whether providing evidence-based treatments resolves patient’s issues more effectively and reduces their cost of care.

Status: In Progress


Title: Reducing wait times, opioid prescriptions and imaging rates for acute and chronic spine pain patients: A university-hospital based chiropractic clinic implementation project.



1) Determine potential barriers to managing spine pain patients without opioid medication and spine imaging prescriptions;

2) the factors related to referring these patients to hospital-based chiropractic care

3) to evaluate the impact of knowledge translation (KT) interventions combined with guideline informed chiropractic care on reducing ED and SAC opioid medication and diagnostic imaging prescriptions, ED wait-time, and patient health outcomes.

Chief Investigator: Dr. Steven Passmore Hons BKin, MS, DC, PhD


Award: $250,000 CAD over 3 years




Status: In Progress


Title: Understanding health care utilization for musculoskeletal disorders and disability in Canada: A population-based perspective.



1) Determine which health care providers Canadians consult to manage MSK pain

2) describe the characteristics of Canadians who consult different types of health providers for MSK disorders and disability.

Chief Investigator: Dr. Pierre Côté, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ontario Tech University, and Centre for Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation at OTU and CMCC


Award: $59,548 CAD




Status: In Progress


Title: Advancing Patient Safety for Special Populations: Active Surveillance Reporting to Identify Adverse Events Following Chiropractic Care in Older Adults


Goal: This 3-part study will investigate changes in symptoms reported by older adults receiving chiropractic care, with a focus on safety.


Chief Investigators: Dr. Martha Funabashi BSc, MSc, PhD Clinical Research Scientist and Assistant Professor CMCC, Toronto, Ontario and Dr. Katharine Pohlman, Director of Research, Parker University, Dallas, Texas, USA


Award: $50,000 CAD




Status: In Progress


Title: Operationalizing ‘whole person’ pain care


Goal: To develop practical evidence-based resources, including a collection of whole patient care principles, themes, and strategies clinicians can use when interacting with their patients experiencing pain.

Chief Investigator: Dr. Peter Stilwell, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia


Award: $25,000 CAD




2000 to 2017

Chiropractic Research Chair and Scholarship Program
CCRF backed research teams have been established on Canada’s most prestigious campuses, publishing
findings in recognized medical journals while building strong ties with colleagues in adjacent health care

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