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Current & Past RFPs

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 over $1,500,000 in these research projects:

Title: Neurophysiological mechanisms underlying pain relief by spinal manipulative therapy in patients with chronic primary low back pain

Award: $60,000
Lead: Dr. Mathieu Piché, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR)
Impact: This project will provide groundbreaking data on the neurophysiological mechanisms of pain relief by spinal manipulative therapy (SMT). Identifying the physical and psychological factors of SMT that contribute to the relief of chronic primary lower back pain can position chiropractic as high-value care for this widespread debilitating issue.

Title: An IDEAL-Rehab Framework to guide study design and conduct of rehabilitation interventions

Award: $7,500
Leads: Dr. Heather Shearer/Dr. Pierre Coté, Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College
Impact: Chiropractors are ideally positioned to provide clinical/rehabilitative care to minimize pain and its chronicity, as well as improve function and health using these interventions. This project will adapt the IDEAL Framework – which assesses the effectiveness of rehabilitation interventions – into a publicly accessible IDEAL-Rehab Framework for researchers, clinicians and policy-makers to facilitate evidence-based rehabilitation delivered by chiropractors and other Canadian providers.

A community-based knowledge translation project to move current pain theory to practice

Award: $15,000
Leads: Dr. Peter Stilwell/Dr. Sabrina Coninx, McGill University, University of Southern Denmark, and the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
Impact: This multi-site collaboration builds on previously funded studies and will produce a high-impact paper and resources (e.g., information sheet, infographic, educational video) for MSK-based clinicians, including chiropractors, on the enactive approach to pain. To do this, the team will define and describe key ideas and concepts so they are clear and clinically accessible. They will also create a robust research agenda for future theoretical and empirical research.


Title: Untangling the association between burden of chronic back pain problems, current utilization of chiropractic care, and availability of chiropractors at the health region level: ecological study

Award: $65,000
Leads: Dr. Dan Wang/Dr. Pierre Côté, Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College
Impact: This study will inform chiropractic policy-makers, government and payers about the role chiropractors can play in Canadian healthcare systems. Designed in collaboration with CCA and provincial associations and using high-quality regional data sets, this project will determine and map the prevalence of chronic back pain, chiropractic utilization and chiropractic availability across the country.

Symptom change, including adverse events following chiropractic care during pregnancy: a feasibility study

Award: $30,000
Leads: Dr. Carol Ann Weis/Dr. Katherine Pohlman, Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College
Impact: While many pregnant women seek chiropractic treatment, they are underrepresented in research. This observational cohort study aims to describe 1) the conditions with which pregnant patients present to chiropractic offices; 2) the type of treatments used in real time to treat the pregnant population; 3) the change in symptoms experienced by these patients after a chiropractic visit; and 4) the frequency and severity of worsening/new symptoms following a chiropractic treatment.

Do methodological trade-offs used to conduct rapid reviews of the literature lead to biased results and conclusions compared to systematic reviews?

Award: $22,500
Leads: Dr. Melissa Macmillan/Dr. Pierre Côté, University of Ontario Institute Of Technology
Impact: The use of rapid reviews within an evidence-informed policy framework places the chiropractic profession as leaders and can improve the practice of chiropractic and the safety of patients. This project is the first to investigate methodological trade-offs of rapid reviews related to rehabilitation and lead to a greater understanding of the evidence synthesises generated by them and their use by health policy decisionmakers with the aim of helping to improve MSK health by clinicians and organizations, including chiropractic associations and Colleges.

Title: Fast Stretch Shorten Cycle Regulation in ACL Injured and Non‐Injured Athletes

Award: $8,000
Leads: Nathan Boon‐van Mossel / University of Calgary
Impact: This project’s purpose is to develop a new test to evaluate recovery from anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR). It will also assess how test instructions influence lower limb stiffness and knee function and examine the effects of lower limb strength on fast stretch-shorten cycle (SSC) capacity. This will help clinicians make educated decisions in injured athletes, which may inform rehabilitation programs, athlete risk profiling, and return to sport.

Development and dissemination of a freely accessible, online evidence-based learning module on the assessment, diagnosis and management of sports concussion in adults and children 

Award: $21,000 

Lead: Dr. Scott Howitt/Ontario Tech University 

Impact:  Canadian chiropractors have the clinical training to assess, diagnose, and manage concussion but there are few user-friendly clinical resources that aggregate this information into a digestible format. This learning module, targeted toward clinicians, will focus on general recommendations for assessment, diagnosis and management of concussion as well as recommendations for managing prolonged post-concussion symptoms. 

: Bringing the athlete’s voice to sports healthcare – investigating and prioritizing athlete expectations, values, and preferences for care to cocreate practice toolkits to inform athlete-centred care.

Award: $31,000

Leads: Dr. Alexander Lee/Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College 

Impact: Athletes are key sports stakeholders who need a “voice” in the development of research and policy about how healthcare is delivered to them. Through in-depth interviews, this project will recruit Canadian national team athletes to investigate their expectations, values, and preferences to guide healthcare providers and sports organizations.


Title: What can chiropractors do to support athletic performance? A focused ethnographic qualitative study of sports chiropractic clinical encounters.
Award: $19,000

Lead: Dr. Alexander Lee/ Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College

Impact: Athletes often seek chiropractic care to enhance sport performance and report positive outcomes. This study seeks to establish chiropractic’s unique value in sports healthcare settings by investigating approaches chiropractors apply when treating athletes, what is distinctive about these approaches and what opportunities exist to improve chiropractors’ ability to influence athletic performance.

Title: Linking physiological responses to clinical outcomes following cervical spine manipulation: a randomized mechanistic cross-over trial

Award: $72,000
Leads: Dr. Lindsay Gorrell & Martin Descarreaux, Balgrist University Hospital, University of Zurich & Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières
Impact: Spinal manipulation (SM) is an effective treatment for neck pain, but the mechanisms are not well understood. This international collaboration aims to develop a scientific approach to identify patients most likely respond to manual therapy by investigating the relationship between delivery kinetics, physiological responses, patient expectations and clinical outcomes following spinal manipulation.



Title: The development of the Diminishment of Expression of Personal and Inherent Values (DEPrIVe) Scale, a novel patient questionnaire assessing impacts of pain on the expression of personal values

Award: $24,500

Lead: Dr. Matthew Barrigar, Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College

Impact:  Patient values are a critical element of evidence-based medicine (EBM) but few instruments exist in persistent pain management. This project builds on collected data gathered from focus groups of English-speaking patients by investigating values held by non-English speakers. Development of this instrument could lead to significant improvements in charting patient values and incorporating them into care plans for managing persistent pain.



Title: Attitudes toward chiropractic: a survey of Canadian sport and exercise medicine physicians

Award: $7,500

Leads: Dr. Cameron Borody & Dr. Janet D’Arcy, Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College  

Impact: Utilization of chiropractic in Canada remains stable at 12%. Interprofessional collaboration is seen as key to the renewal and growth of the chiropractic profession. This study will investigate current attitudes of Canadian sport and exercise medicine physicians (CSPs) towards chiropractic, through past and ongoing interprofessional collaborations, for treating the general public, athletes and in high performance environments like professional and National Sport Organizations.


Title: Exploring pain-related disabilities among First Nations, Inuit and Métis in Canada
Award: $79,500

Lead: Dr. Pierre Côté, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ontario Tech University and the Institute for Disability and Rehabilitation Research

Impact: Among Indigenous peoples in Canada, conditions related to pain are the leading causes of disabilities, but too little research exists to understand their burden and impact. Working collaboratively with Indigenous peoples, this project aims to provide essential information to assist chiropractors and healthcare partners in understanding pain-related disabilities within these communities to develop evidence-informed, culturally agile care and interventions that respect Indigenous ways of knowing.

Title: Using ICF linking rules to catalogue characteristics of older adults with low back pain related disability

Award: $12,000
Lead: Dr. Aleisha Adeboyejo, University of Ontario Institute of Technology/Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College
Impact: This is the first study to link epidemiological and qualitative research of older adults with low back pain to the WHO’s ICF framework, which measures health and disability. This will assist chiropractors in the evaluation and management of their patients, improve comparison of global data across health disciplines and communication between health care workers, researchers, and other stakeholders.



Title: Systemic inflammatory biomarkers and brain functional connectivity: Identifying a neuroinflammatory signature in patients with idiopathic chronic neck pain?

Award: $25,000

Lead: Dr. Felipe Duarte, Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College

Impact:  This study expands Dr. Duarte’s previously approved Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) project by adding a control group and blood inflammatory biomarker analysis which will evaluate the relationship between peripheral inflammatory biomarkers, brain functional connectivity, and clinical outcomes across all groups.



Title: Measurement of spinal mobilization biomechanical parameters in the preschool pediatric population

Award: $13,000

Leads: Dr. Isabelle Pagé & Dr. Chantal Doucet, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières  

Impact: This ground-breaking study will measure the biomechanics of Spinal manipulation (SM) and mobilization (MOB) in children under 5 years of age using a pressure sensing glove system known as TekscanTM. The goal is to improve safety, explore the underlying mechanisms of MSK disorders and provide important clinical data to improve training of chiropractic students.

Title: Developing the first evidence-based operationalization of pain-related suffering: A foundational step to targeting the reduction of suffering among people living with pain.

Award: $25,000     Status: Complete

Lead: Dr. Peter Stilwell, School of Physical & Occupational Therapy – The Royal Institution for the Advancement of Learning/McGill University

Impact: Building on previous work, Dr. Stilwell seeks to fill an important gap by determining the first evidence-based definition of pain-related suffering. His multi-disciplinary team will combine qualitative, quantitative and knowledge transfer methodologies to help clinicians better understand how patients are affected by this experience.


Title: Practitioners’ Beliefs, Experiences, and Perceptions of Cultural Health Disparities in the Delivery of Chiropractic and Physiotherapy Services in Canada: A Qualitative Study

Award: $10,500   Status: Complete

Leads: Dr. Nora Bakaa & Luciana Macedo, McMaster University

Impact: Equitable delivery of rehabilitation services and improved access to care will improve health outcomes for all Canadians. This project will examine the unique challenges faced by Canadian chiropractors and physiotherapists with respect to care delivery. Using data from a large-scale cross-sectional survey that assessed diversity and cultural competency important and current social disparities within the Canadian health care system will be identified.

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.


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. 

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

Award: $29,800     Status: Complete

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
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 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
Award: $5,000     Status: Complete

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 promote physical 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
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 $50,000

Title: The Effect of Chiropractor Informed Triage vs. Usual Medical Management on Low Back Patient Outcomes and Trajectories in Tertiary Care Settings: a Controlled Clinical Study
Leads: Dr. Martin Descarreaux & Dr. Andrée-Anne Marchand
Impact: This is the first study in Canada to use randomized triage approach to measure the impact of chiropractors’ diagnosis and treatment on a patient’s trajectory through the public health care system. Patients with low back pain will be randomly referred to triage done by a chiropractor or directly to the neurosurgeon to see how integrating chiropractors into public health care services during triage could reduce delays as well as the number of non-indicated examinations and, consequently, contribute to improving the health of patients with low back pain.


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.


Award: $10,000     Status: Complete

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.


Award: $44,000     Status: Complete

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.


Award: $16,000     Status: Complete

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.


Award: $5,000     Status: Complete

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: Complete 

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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