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Chiropractic Research Review

CAM Credentialing: An Overview

Since the late 1800s, state governments and medical associations have established methods for licensing physicians and conventional nonphysician health-care providers and standardizing practice credentials.

The recent boom in popularity of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) generates additional attention toward credentialing alternative providers, such as chiropractors, naturopaths, massage therapists, acupuncturists, etc.

Currently, legislation supersedes medical recognition; state legislatures may license CAM providers regardless of the amount and consensus of research pertinent to the therapy. This review covers the primary issues in CAM credentialing by each state to provide an outline for physician use. Specific data provided on the chiropractic profession included the following:

* Chiropractic is licensed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
* 70,000 licensed DCs practice in the U.S.
* 16 chiropractic colleges are accredited by the Council on Chiropractic Education.
* The largest obstacle to standardizing credentialing across state lines may be differing scopes of practice (e.g., whether DCs can dispense dietary supplements or provide acupuncture).

The authors conclude, "The suggested framework balances the desire to protect the public from dangerous practices against the wish to grant patients access to reasonably safe and effective therapies."

Eisenberg DM, Cohen MH, et al. Credentialing complementary and alternative medical providers. Annals of Internal Medicine 2002:137(12), pp. 965-973.

Chiropractic Research Review

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