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Chiropractic Research Review

The Chiropractor’s Role in Public Health Care

Currently, chiropractic course curricula do not thoroughly address the chiropractor’s role in public health, clinical prevention, or health promotion. Little data address the attitudes of U.S.

doctors of chiropractic in terms of clinical preventive services, particularly with regard to characterizing their understanding of the profession's position relative to the public health care arena, or to identify possible professional educational needs.

Researchers surveyed a random sample of U.S. chiropractors, and representative samples of students and faculty at 10 U.S. chiropractic colleges. Respondents' data were utilized to examine relationships between "practitioner characteristics and their responses concerning counseling on health indicators." A total of 496 practitioners, 582 students and 45 faculty members returned completed surveys.

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Results showed that a substantial portion of U.S. doctors of chiropractic, chiropractic students and faculty have a positive attitude regarding the provision of clinical preventive services. More than 80% of DCs reported providing information to their patients regarding musculoskeletal risk reduction, exercise, diet, stress reduction and injury prevention. The same percentage reported obtaining information from patients on physical activity, stress, dietary habits, obesity, medication use, and occupational hazards. At least 50% of DCs said clinical preventive services that should be provided to patients included tobacco risks/cessation; skin cancer prevention; substance abuse and cessation options; and breastfeeding and diet during pregnancy. Other services that at least 50% of chiropractors agreed they should obtain information on from patients included depression/anxiety; alcohol abuse/dependence; domestic violence; seat belt use; and helmet use.

Results also showed that there are areas in which chiropractic educational training is not meeting national guidelines for the administration of such preventive services in consistent fashion. The authors conclude: "In order to fully comply with the Council on Chiropractic Education standards and to develop the capacity to serve as wellness practitioners ... it is important that the profession systematically assess its institutions' training in the requisite areas of disease prevention, health risk assessment, and health promotion."

Hawk C, Long CR, Perillo M, Boulanger KT. A survey of US chiropractors on clinical preventive services. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, June 2004;27(5):287-98.

Chiropractic Research Review

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