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Chiropractic Research Review

A Profile of Chiropractic in North America

Recent studies have shown that chiropractic is becoming an increasingly sought-out form of primary health care. About two-thirds of outpatient visits for back pain are made to doctors of chiropractic and chiropractors in the United States are responsible for 94% of billed services for manipulation covered by health insurance.

Researchers examined chiropractic-related demographics at five chiropractic sites in the United States and one site in Canada for the purpose of presenting descriptive data on chiropractors and patients of chiropractic.

A total of 131 chiropractors and 1,275 chiropractic patients were assessed in the following areas: chiropractic practice, including economics of practice; chiropractic practitioners, including demographic profile and practice therapies; and patient profile, including demographics, problems treated by the chiropractor, disability, general health status, chiropractic treatment, medical care preceding chiropractic, previous chiropractic care, costs and patient satisfaction. The following represent some key data from the study. Consult the article for a complete breakdown of the results.

Chiropractic Practice and Practitioners: Eighty-three percent of practitioners work full time. Eighty percent own their practices; 8% are contractors; 8% are partners; and 1% are employees. Twenty-three percent describe their practice as a specialty; 28% describe it as a general practice; and 47% describe it as both. Thirty-seven percent of practitioners report an annual income in excess of $200,000 and 41% reported an annual income between $80,000 and $200,000. Forty percent of practitioners have been in practice for 6 to 10 years; 34% for 11 to 15 years; and 14% for longer than 16 years. Chiropractors reported utilizing manipulation most often using a wide variety of techniques; however, chiropractors also reported employing other nonadjustive therapies such as patient education, exercise and massage, among others.

Chiropractic Patients: Most patients (76%) reported seeing a chiropractor for back pain, including 27% for neck/cervical; 22% for low back pain; and 21% for back/spine. Extremity problems accounted for 13% of visits. There was a high report of patient satisfaction. On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 representing the highest amount of patient confidence in chiropractic treatment, 42% rated their care as 10 and 78% rated their care as 8 or better. According to the researchers, "Ninety percent would definitely recommend it for their family and friends, and 93% were sure they would return for care."

Conclusion: "The results suggest that chiropractic draws the majority of its patients from mainstream healthcare," the researchers wrote. "The results also show that for a majority of patients, the chiropractor is the primary contact provider for the current episode being treated by chiropractic...the practitioners, and the patients would seem to imply that chiropractors have firmly established themselves within the health delivery system of North America."

Coulter ID, Shekell PG. Chiropractic in North America: a descriptive analysis. JMPT 2005 Feb; 28(2):83-9.

Chiropractic Research Review

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