Dr. Evans is currently an Associate Professor and the Director of Integrative Health & Wellbeing at the University of Minnesota’s Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing. She earned her chiropractic degree at Northwestern Health Sciences University in 1993, and for nearly 20 years helped Northwestern’s Wolfe-Harris Center for Clinical Studies evolve into one of the most successful chiropractic research programs in the country. Dr. Evans’ career has focused largely on the conduct of comparative effectiveness research on chiropractic care including manual therapies, exercise, and self-management for individuals struggling with musculoskeletal pain. In her role as a clinical research scientist and Dean of Research at Northwestern, she conducted more than 10 full-scale randomized clinical trials exploring chiropractic care for spinal pain conditions, including several ‘first of kind’ studies focused on understudied populations (seniors, adolescents) and conditions (back related leg pain, acute neck pain).
In 2014, she moved to the University of Minnesota, where she co-founded the Integrative Health & Wellbeing Research Program at the Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality and Healing with the generous support of NCMIC. She continues to conduct research on chiropractic and integrative approaches that help empower individuals of all ages and abilities to better manage their health and wellbeing. Dr. Evans has long been curious of what motivates patients to better care for themselves. Her new lines of research focus on how behavior change strategies can be integrated with mind and body approaches like mindfulness, spinal manipulation and exercise, to engage individuals in effective self-management. Currently, she is the principal investigator of an innovative National Institutes of Health funded study exploring how mindfulness can help older adults become more physically active. She is also a co-investigator of one of the largest clinical trials to ever be conducted on back pain in the United States. Funded by the National Institutes of Health, this study examines how chiropractors and physical therapists can use spinal manipulation and supported self-management to play a more prominent role in first line management of acute low back pain.
Since 2007, Dr. Evans has been active in promoting the dissemination and implementation of research into the field. She was the principal investigator of a National Institutes of Health funded Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) Research Education Partnership Project (R25 AT003582) which was responsible for creating and implementing ‘Evidence Informed Practice’ educational resources and strategies for chiropractors and other complementary health professionals which are still in use locally, and nationwide. Being based at a major land grant university has offered new opportunities to raise awareness of chiropractic and other complementary approaches for health and has led to new interdisciplinary collaborations with schools of medicine, nursing, public health, computer science and others. Dr. Evans also teaches two courses at the University of Minnesota, introducing students from a wide range of disciplines to the science of chiropractic and integrative care.
Throughout her career, Dr. Evans has been passionate about mentoring the next generation of chiropractic and integrative health research scientists and has served as a mentor for more than 20 individuals. She is currently directing the new NCMIC supported Integrative Health Research Fellowship Program which leverages the University of Minnesota’s extensive research resources and her team’s unique expertise, to develop the next generation of chiropractic researchers.