Eric Hurwitz

Focus on WSC Research Committee

World Spine Care’s research committee is responsible for overseeing our research agenda, moving the research program forward; as well as attracting graduate students and researchers who are interested in developing research projects for, with or about WSC.

The research committee aims to identify potential funding sources and opportunities, disseminate its research findings (through publication and presentation), and support its research partners including supervision of student researchers. The research committee also works closely with the WSC clinical team to coordinate and advise WSC clinical operations and documentation and to facilitate development of clinically relevant research questions.

The Research Committee is Co-Chaired by Margareta Nordin and Eric Hurwitz, who have both been involved with the organization since the beginning. Read on for a one-on-one interview with Eric about the importance of research in meeting World Spine Care’s mission.

Eric Hurwitz
Eric Hurwitz, DC, PhD, Co-chair of World Spine Care Research Committee

SI: Why did you decide to get involved with World Spine Care (WSC) and how long have you been involved with the organization?

EH: Scott Haldeman and I have known each other since I was a chiropractic student in the late 1980s.  He co-directed the Bone and Joint Decade 2000–2010 Task Force on Neck Pain of which I was a member of the scientific secretariat for 10 years.  Shortly after the publication of the Task Force papers in 2008, he asked if I would be willing to help with his new initiative, World Spine Care.  Scott is one of those people you just can’t say no to, especially after hearing his vision for WSC.

I took a couple of weeks off from school and traveled to Botswana on the inaugural trip where Scott, Joan, Geoff, and I met with officials in the Ministry of Health in Gaborone and community folks in Shoshong and Mahalapye to lay the groundwork for the first WSC clinic.  It was apparent from the get-go that the burden of spinal disorders is huge and that WSC could play an important role in helping to reduce the burden and get people back to work and better able to do their everyday tasks.

SI: What is the best part of being involved with the WSC Research Committee?

The people.  We have an amazing group of dedicated researchers and researcher-clinicians, world-class, only fitting for an organization like World Spine Care! 

Assisting students with their projects and seeing them come to fruition is also very rewarding. Observing committee members like Maria Hondras go from pre-PhD to PhD and then post-PhD; publishing truly remarkable community and people-centered research along the way, is really gratifying.

SI: What do you see as the role of WSC’s Research Committee?

The committee’s role is to facilitate research that fits within the mission of World Spine Care: To improve lives in underserved communities through sustainable, integrated, evidence based, spine care.

The committee approves and oversees projects to assure their validity and that they’re done to the highest ethical standards.  Given the dearth of research on spinal disorders in low- and middle-income countries, there’s so much we need to do. 

Just getting a handle on the true burden of spine-associated disability in various communities – it sounds simple but isn’t since disability presents itself much differently in these places than in higher income communities with different cultures, resources, occupations, stressors, etc. (as Maria Hondras’s ethnographic research so eloquently demonstrates).

SI: Why is research so important to WSC’s mission:  To improve lives in underserved communities through sustainable, integrated, evidence based, spine care?

It’s difficult to know if we’re achieving our mission and truly making a difference without good data and sound analyses.  We need valid data, ongoing monitoring of patient outcomes, and focused, culturally relevant research to see if and by how much we’re impacting people’s lives and improving the community’s health. Research is vital to making sure WSC stays true to its mission and continues to improve lives by identifying what we’re doing right and what we could be doing better in each of the communities we serve.

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