More Amnesia @ NPR


More Amnesia @ NPR

The conviction of three Aljezeera news reporters in Egypt is shocking for countries who believe in freedom of the press. The harsh sentence for these journalists is unconscionable in our society; certainly limiting freedom of speech would bring outrage in any democratic country.

Can the chiropractic profession express similar outrage in regards to the virtual boycott of chiropractic in the news? Indeed, when was the last time we’ve seen an in-depth article touting the benefits our profession brings to a disabled world?

Okay, stop laughing! The idea of fair journalism for chiropractors is so outrageous, just broaching the idea makes us laugh since it has never happened.

On Sunday morning, another of my favorite NPR programs, Weekend Edition Sunday for June 22, 2014, exhibited the symptoms for journalistic amnesia when it featured a discussion about the abuse and dangers of opioid painkillers that omitted any mention of our profession as a possible solution to this drug epidemic despite ostensibly seeking a better way, “Doctors and patients are grappling with how to balance the need for pain relief with the potential for trouble.”

We chiropractors are not grasping at straws how to keep patients off addictive, expensive, dangerous, and ineffective painkillers, yet our non-drug treatment is ignored as a plausible solution for millions of Americans. Obviously the click, whirr at NPR only considers pharmaceutical treatments to the exclusion of all else.

Although NPR shows are considered very liberal compared to the main stream media or FOX News, the repeated omission of all-things-chiropractic is surprising. While this program bravely broached the issue of abuse, dangers, and addiction of opioid painkillers, it offered no CAM alternatives such as chiropractic care, massage therapy, anti-inflammatory diets, or other safer CAM treatments for the chronic pain that drives most people to use painkillers.

Yesterday’s article on Weekend Edition Sunday with hostess Rachel Martin, Americans Weigh Addiction Risk When Taking Painkillers, failed to mention the best non-drug solution for many people suffering from chronic back pain—chiropractic care—just as Dr. Gupta omitted our help in his program, Deadly Dose, that dealt with the same problem of abuse of opioids for chronic pain.

This omission of chiropractic by NPR is not out of character. If you research the frequency of chiropractic as a topic on NPR programs, you may be surprised by the findings:

All Things Considered: 8 of 115,863 = 0.0069%
Morning Edition: 6 of 112,643 = 0.005%
Science Friday: 0 of 2,791 = 0.0%
Weekend ATC: 0 of 6,471 = 0.0%
Fresh Air: 0 of 3,686 = 0.0%
Talk of the Nation: 2 of 11,806 = 0.0169%
This accounting shows only 16 articles on chiropractic in 253,260 segments on these NPR programs which equates to a frequency rate of only 0.0063% according to research @ Undoubtedly this small amount is certainly not favorable remarks, either. Most often it’s when medical trolls have taken cheap shots at our profession.

On June 17, 2014, another NPR program, Science Friday, spoke of the “anti-science” mindset in Congress, which I liken to NPR’s attitude about chiropractic care. This is the second time I’ve written to this program about its chirophobia.

Here’s a short excerpt from my recent letter:

As a long time listener to your show, I enjoyed the conversation with Rep. Holt about the regressive attitudes held by some in Congress that seem antagonistic toward scientific research.

Rep. Rush Holt: Science and Congress

Representative Rush Holt talks about how “thinking like a scientist” can help the political process.

As a health provider myself, I agree with Ira Flatow that Congressmen should keep an “open mind,” but I found his comment a bit ironic. In regards to discussing my specialty, chiropractic care, it seems a steel trap door can be heard closing with a loud bang at Science Friday and other NPR programs.

Is this omission a function of chirophobia, not germane to the subject matter, or simply professional amnesia as we’ve also seen with Dr. Sanjay Gupta @

Considering the dire lack of news attention about our profession, chirophobia appears to be a national plague in the media.

Indeed, isn’t this persistent avoidance an issue the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress should be addressing?

I’ve suggested a change in tactics from WOC ads to real-life interviews by our own spokespersons to raise such issues in the media, but the F4CP has ignored my plea for unknown reasons.

For that matter, will the ACA and ICA contact the folks at NPR to discuss this dire lack of coverage for the third-largest, physician-level health profession in the nation?

Just as we’ve seen recently with the yellow journalism at Forbes bashing chiropractors and the USA Today article that was clearly laden with bias and mistakes, when will our leadership develop a plan to address this important issue?

Here is the NPR article for your reading curiosity:

Weekend edition NPR: Sunday’s Show

Americans Weigh Addiction Risk When Taking Painkillers
Listen to conversation

by Scott Hensley, June 22, 2014

Prescriptions for narcotic painkillers have surged in recent years. Fatal overdoses and abuse of the drugs have risen, too. Doctors and patients are grappling with how to balance the need for pain relief with the potential for trouble.

In April, Judy Foreman, author of A Nation in Pain, summed up the dilemma to NPR’s Scott Simon. “We haven’t been able to really ever get it right, in my opinion, and it’s really been very tough on pain patients who legitimately need the medications,” she said. “And at the same time, the more prescription opioids there are floating around out there, the more people … are abusing them. So it’s colliding epidemics.”

How do Americans see this issue? NPR and Truven Health Analytics conducted a nationwide poll to find out.

We wanted to know how worried, or not, people are about using painkillers. And we really wanted to find out whether these developments, these “colliding epidemics” as Foreman calls them, are changing peoples’ attitudes toward narcotic painkillers. Are they fearful of or comfortable with taking them?

Our survey shows that most Americans have taken these kinds of medicines at some point in their lives. A little more that half of the people surveyed said that. The most common reason by far was to relieve some kind of temporary pain: a sprained ankle, surgery, dental procedure. About 1 in 5 said they had taken the drugs for chronic pain.

Seventy-eight percent said they believe there is a link between drug addiction and narcotic painkillers.

A little more than a third, or 36 percent, who had taken narcotic painkillers had concerns about them. And the concern about these drugs was a bit lower for people who hadn’t taken them, at about 30 percent.

The top worry was addiction. About 36 percent of people said addiction best described their concerns. After that, about 30 percent of people were most concerned about side effects. Common side effects with opioids include sleepiness, constipation and nausea.

There’s been a lot of attention paid to the painkiller dilemma. And there’s been a real public health push to make doctors and patients more thoughtful about when to use these drugs. Has that led people to change their views?

It turned out that about a quarter of those surveyed said they had refused or questioned a prescription for an opioid. We polled about painkillers in 20111 and the answer to that question was about the same then.

We asked how people feel about new, particularly potent painkillers. Some states are looking to ban drugs like these, even though the Food and Drug Administration recently approved one called Zyhdro. In our poll, a majority of Americans say drugs like those should be available.

The poll is based on responses from 3,010 people collected during the first half of May. People were contacted by land line, cell phone and over the Internet. The margin for error is plus or minus 1.8 percentage points.

The full results of the poll can be found here.