Due to the lack of funding by government agencies, legitimate, sustained scientific research in chiropractic has only recently become fully established. In 1944, the National Chiropractic Association (NCA) created the Chiropractic Research Foundation (CRF) with the objective of promoting and acquiring funding for the development of research for the chiropractic profession.
During the 1960s, chiropractic educators realized the importance of upgrading educational standards to achieve nationally recognized accreditation. The NCA became the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) and the CRF became the Foundation for Accredited Chiropractic Education. What was originally conceived as an organization to support research became an organization to help chiropractic colleges gain accreditation. While this was accomplished in 1974, when the U.S. Department of Health Education and Welfare recognized the Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE), and the Foundation for Accredited Chiropractic Education was reorganized as the Foundation of Chiropractic Education and Research (FCER), the emphasis was to remain for several years on education rather than research.
Two important developments in the 1970s expanded the scope of chiropractic research. First, the U.S. Department of Health Education and Welfare sponsored a research conference on spinal manipulation in 1975, which heightened awareness of the need for research on spinal manipulation and other chiropractic-related subject matter. This prompted the organization of the Chiropractic Research Council (CRC) in an effort to bring together the research directors of all the chiropractic colleges. The second important development came in 1979, when the FCER hired a director of research who expanded the research program and established a competitive scientific review process for submitted proposals. The Foundation also implemented an annual research conference for paper presentations, research training, and interprofessional communication. This meeting thrives to this day as the International Conference on Spinal Manipulation, which attracts researchers from different fields worldwide.
Today, research in chiropractic has grown by leaps and bounds thanks to the assistance of a number of other organizations, mostly within the chiropractic profession. The scope of chiropractic research parallels that of medical research, with active research involvement in such areas as basic science, health services, education, and clinical research.
However, until very recently, Federal funding has been virtually nonexistent. Even with millions of research dollars being given to medical research each year, only a small number of Federal grants have been awarded to projects involving chiropractic, and in amounts that pale in comparison to medical grants.
In 1994-5, half of all grant funding to chiropractic researchers was from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (7 grants totalling $2.3 million) and most of the remainder was from the Foundation for Chiropractic Education and Research (11 grants totalling $881,000) and the Consortium for Chiropractic Research (4 grants totalling $519,000).
Currently there are 14 peer-reviewed chiropractic journals in English which publish the results of chiropractic research, including The Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, Topics in Clinical Chiropractic, and the Journal of Chiropractic Humanities. Chiropractic research has also been published in scientific journals, although chiropractic researchers recognize that most of their work is read by the chiropractic profession alone. With each passing day more is done to reduce this scientific isolation and expand the scope and appreciation of chiropractic and chiropractic research to the scientific community and the general public.