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Chiropractic Research Review

Chiropractic Patient Populations Past and Present

Little data describe possible changes in chiropractic patient populations over time, although there have been radical changes in legislation and integration of chiropractic. Chiropractors increasingly practice at hospital clinics and in government positions.

This study compared surveys of the Danish chiropractic population performed in 1962 and 1999.

The majority of chiropractors (approximately 50) in Denmark in the early 1960s were Palmer School of Chiropractic graduates; the remainder were trained by Palmer graduates. These DCs addressed any malady that could conceivably be influenced by a subluxation. By the late 1990s, chiropractic had changed dramatically in Denmark. Chiropractors are now licensed to provide care for biomechanical dysfunctions of the spine, pelvis and extremities, and a five-year, government-funded university education in chiropractic is available in the country. In 1962, data from 1,118 patients were collected on location of primary complaint; duration of complaint; number of treatments; and treatment outcome. In 1999, similar data were gathered for 1,897 patients and the two data sets were compared.

The authors found the results of the surveys "remarkably similar." Approximately 70% of patients presented with low-back or neck disorders in both surveys. Less than 10% of patients presented with organic disorders, such as asthma, allergies or infantile colic (type O disorders), in each survey, although the types of organic disorders varied. Notably, more than one-third of the patients who presented for management of type O disorders in 1999 were infants, where no infants were reported in the 1962 study. In 1962, 11% of patients complained of headache, compared to 4% in 1999. In 1962, nearly 50% of patients suffered for over one year, compared to 20% of patients in 1999.

The authors conclude that both 40 years in the past and in the present, Danish chiropractors have principally treated pain syndromes related to the spine.

Hartvigsen J, Bolding-Jensen O, et al. Danish chiropractic patients then and now A comparison between 1962 and 1999. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2003:26(2), pp. 65-69. www.mosby.com/jmpt

Chiropractic Research Review

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