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Chiropractic Research Review

Complementary Therapies: Chiropractors' Clinical Use and Referral

Chiropractic is considered a complementary health care practice by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), formerly the Office of Alternative Medicine (OAM). As this study points out, "chiropractic is the most commonly used complementary healthcare practice and it is accepted by a large percentage of medical practitioners."

The goal of this mail-in survey of a random sample of U.S.

chiropractors was to examine the respondents' opinions regarding the role of the profession in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and "to gather information on the types of complementary healthcare practices that chiropractors use in addition to spinal manipulation." Philosophical view points are interesting to notice. The 563 respondents were almost equally divided in their belief that chiropractic is presently viewed as "complementary"; 68% thought chiropractic is seen as a therapeutic modality and 8% thought that is how chiropractic should be viewed; 82% felt chiropractic should be considered a complete system; while 23% felt that it actually is, currently.

Respondents reported that the alternative therapies they most often used in their practices were acupressure (72%), massage (72%), and herbs (56%). Other therapies used included: megadose vitamins (44%), cartilage products (42%), homeopathy (43%), amino acid supplements (26%), electroacupuncture (22%), yoga (15%), acupuncture (17%), biofeedback (14%), naturopathy (14%), meditation (14%), and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) (11%). Also interesting were patterns of referrals from DCs to other CAM providers. These patterns were compared to MDs. DCs referred sometimes more and sometimes less than MDs, depending on the therapy.

The authors of this study concluded that "chiropractors employ a number of complementary therapies in addition to spinal manipulation. Information published on chiropractors use of standard diagnostic and assessment procedures, for which their educational institutions have provided training, may increase the perception of chiropractic as a system (and a profession) rather than as a single therapeutic modality."

Take Note: This well-written paper provides a candid snapshot of many chiropractors' understanding, philosophical viewpoint and practice of chiropractic. This research can serve as a valuable mirror to the profession in sorting out many issues.

Hawk C, Byrd L, Jansen RD, Long CR. Use of complementary healthcare practices among chiropractors in the United States: A survey. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, Jan. 1999; 5(1), pp56-62.
Reprints: Tel: (800) 345-8112

Chiropractic Research Review

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