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Chiropractic Journal of Australia : CJA September 2013
Chiropractic Journal of Australia Volume 43 Number 3 September 2013 85 INTRODUCTION Recent research shows that there is an increased interest in and use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in a number of countries.1 Remarkably, this is happening at the time when conventional medicine is experiencing an unprecedented high rate of advancement in clinical and basic Chiropractic in Australia: A Survey of the General Public BENJAMIN T. BROWN, ROD BONELLO, RAMON FERNANDEZ-CAAMANO, PETRA L. GRAHAM, SHARYN EATON and HILARY GREEN Benjamin T. Brown, PhD Assoc Prof. Rod Bonello, MHA, PhD Ramon Fernandez-Caamano, PhD Petra L. Graham, PhD Sharyn Eaton, PhD Hilary Green, MSc All Macquarie University, Sydney The Work Force Study (WFS) was funded by the Chiropractors' Association of Australia National (CAAN) and Macquarie University. No other fnancial support was provided for this research. The authors did not receive any fnancial incentives for this research. Therefore no confict of interest was declared. ABSTRACT: Background: An increase in the use of complementary and alternative medicine was identifed in several countries including Australia. There is a need to assess the current position of chiropractic within the Australian health system. Objectives: To estimate the lifetime prevalence of the use of chiropractic in Australia; to investigate the perceptions and attitudes of Australian general public about: their health status, the chiropractic profession, chiropractic and health services in general. Methods: A survey was carried out in which a novel 21-item questionnaire was utilised. To obtain a sample whose opinions would be representative of the Australian general population with a 95% level of signifcance and 4% margin of error, 600 respondents were required. Descriptive statistics, the chi-squared test and logistic regression were used to present and analyse the data. Results: 757 respondents completed the survey. A high prevalence of pain and discomfort relating to the musculoskeletal system were found, particularly in the lower back (71.1% of the respondents) and neck (55.6%). The frst contact with respect to therapy for the greatest proportion of respondents was general medicine (35.5%), followed by chiropractic (16%), physiotherapy (13.8%) and massage (10.2%). Physiotherapy was rated highest in its ability to relive the symptoms (18%) followed by chiropractic (15.9%), massage (15.5%) and medicine (14%). In our sample 302 (39.9%) participants used chiropractic before and 75.9% of these consumers were satisfed or highly satisfed with the services provided. No signifcant differences in income, age and gender were found with regards to those individuals who reported a previous use of chiropractic services. The main reasons for not using chiropractic were: that there was no perceived need for a chiropractic intervention, associated cost, lack of information about chiropractic, lack of referral, being attended by another health professional, and concern about the safety and effcacy of the treatment. Most of the respondents considered that attending to general health and well-being was more important than simply alleviating symptoms and their personal philosophy was a major determinant when it came to the choice of health services. Conclusions: This study suggests that chiropractic is a thriving profession in Australia. It would appear that there is a need for chiropractic services in Australia, particularly in attending to the highly prevalent realm of musculoskeletal disorders. A considerable number of Australians already utilise chiropractic services. Encouragingly, the vast majority of these consumers are satisfed with the service provided. Chiropractic could play an even greater role within the Australian health if better integrated with the mainstream and allied medicine. A more active approach should be taken by chiropractic practitioners and institutions to improve the general public's knowledge about chiropractic. INDEX TERMS: CHIROPRACTIC; MANPOWER; SUPPLY AND DISTRIBUTION. Chiropr J Aust 2013; 43: 85-92. science research and, consequently, a rise in the number of people benefting from this service. Indeed, CAM seems to have thrived in developed countries such as the USA, Canada, Australia and certain Western European countries, in which the benefts of modern biomedicine are felt most profoundly.1 Furthermore, in most countries CAM treatment is not covered by national insurance systems and therefore the cost of treatment is paid by patients directly. All this suggests a high motivation to use CAM on the part of the patient. Australia is one of the countries in which the use of CAM is substantial and its popularity is on the increase.2-5 One of the professions that features prominently in the current landscape of Australian CAM providers is chiropractic. The chiropractic profession has a long history in Australia, and the number of registered practitioners is increasing.5 Furthermore, Australia is one of the few countries in which chiropractic is taught in government funded universities. In fact, the world’s frst such department was established at Macquarie University in 1991. This expansion of chiropractic
CJA June 2013
CJA December 2013