Dynamic Chiropractic – July 29, 2004, Vol. 22, Issue 16

Turning the Pages of Chiropractic History

By Donald M. Petersen Jr., BS, HCD(hc), FICC(h), Publisher
Some things have changed, others have not...

In preparation for our 500th issue of Dynamic Chiropractic, I decided to page through every issue since its launch in January 1983. If you were around then, you remember that for the first few issues, DC was strictly a two-color publication.

The first full-color advertisement didn't appear until the August 2003 issue ("Introduction to Chiropractic," offered by Practice Makers). A color photograph didn't appear on the front page until the December 1985 issue.

Since that time, Dynamic Chiropractic has been through many changes. Content-wise, DC has grown and matured substantially, with more issues per year, more columnists, more topics and more investigative reporting. The format and layout have been updated several times over the past 21-plus years, reflecting a need for more news and shorter, more concise articles.

During this same time, the chiropractic profession has grown and matured in many ways. Scanning through the headlines reveals certain themes and trends. Some of our greatest challenges are now behind us; other issues have yet to be resolved.

Here is a look through the first 500 issues at some of the things that have changed, and some that have not:

Important Changes in Chiropractic

  1. Better Known - Twenty years ago, every little mention of chiropractic on television, or in a movie or newspaper article was cause for celebration or rebuttal. Today, chiropractic gets a lot more exposure, although there is still an issue about what the media is saying.
  2. Less Involved - With some exceptions, there are fewer DCs involved in our national and state associations than in the past. Perhaps in response to lower reimbursement rates and busier lifestyles, DCs are less involved. This puts chiropractic at a disadvantage when it comes to issues and challenges that require funding and individual action. It seems that a serious threat is required for mass mobilization.
  3. More Research, Less Readers - Prior to 1990, almost all peer-reviewed chiropractic research was found in the pages of JMPT. The profession funded it, performed it, and a small percentage of the profession read about the results. The 1990s heralded a new era in which chiropractic research is now funded, conducted and/or published by those outside chiropractic. Unfortunately, the current state of research publication sees the loss of most chiropractic research journals, due to extremely low subscription rates.

Unchanged Areas
  1. Still Grasping at Unity - While the number of associations has diminished in some states, chiropractic is still a disjointed profession hampered by the antics of a few who would rather see the profession in chaos. While there is no shortage of "unity" rhetoric, actions continue to speak louder than words and a unified profession is still feared by those few who fear a personal loss of power.
  2. No Voice - Chiropractic had no united voice 20 years ago, and the situation hasn't gotten any better. Several failed attempts have left us open to numerous criticisms with no profession-wide response possible. The current National Public Relations Campaign is our best hope of being able to finally tell our own story.
  3. Same Practice, Different Era - While many DCs have adapted to the current health care environment, many have not. Managed care and limited reimbursement have dictated that doctors see most of their patients as few times as possible to address the primary complaint. The number of patients who are interested in maintenance care (and willing to pay for it) has not increased sufficiently for most practices. The current focus is on efficient care of limited duration; the current system rewards those providers in tune with that focus.

The good news overall is that chiropractic is a vibrant profession that has established itself in most segments of the health care arena. In contrast to other "alternative" health care professions, most people have some kind of access to chiropractic, although the quality of that access may be poor. Chiropractic is generally here to stay.

The challenge continues to be the quality of chiropractic's position in the health care marketplace. Winning lawsuits and gaining more political muscle have opened some doors, but our own inactiveness has stagnated our growth in some areas and caused us to lose ground in others.

All health care professions, particularly medicine, are disenchanted with managed care and limited reimbursement. This creates opportunities that are only available to those willing to work for them. In the end, the consumer public will decide.

Chiropractic is not so much a health care profession as it is a crusade for health. When we remember that, we win.


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