As complementary and alternative therapies are becoming increasingly popular, researchers have sought to identify whether such therapies are fully addressing patient needs. Despite a growing supply of studies indicating the benefits of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies like chiropractic care, less research has answered the question of whether patients are consistently satisfied with these treatments. A new study from the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics shows that when it comes to chiropractic care, the answer to that question is a resounding “yes.”
The survey included a sample of 486 patients from 96 chiropractic clinics in Australia who responded to questionnaires about their use and perception of chiropractic care. The results indicated that:
- 96% of chiropractic patients said chiropractic was beneficial for their overall health and well being.
- 91% of patients said chiropractors helped them take more responsibility for their personal health.
- 97% of patients said they would seek chiropractic care again.
The JMPT study also painted a prototypical picture of the chiropractic patient; who tends to be female, between the ages of 40-65 years, and earning an annual income of $40-90,000 per year. The majority of patients (68%) said they had visited a chiropractor for musculoskeletal problems. Only 21% visited a chiropractor for general health maintenance, less than half the percentage of patients in the US who reported seeing a chiropractor for overall wellness (44.6%) according to an earlier study.
Australian vs. American Use of Chiropractic Care
The prevalence of chiropractic care in Australia has grown in recent years, with a 78% increase in the number of registered chiropractors between 2006 and 2012. Australians may be more likely to pursue complementary and alternative medicine compared to Americans. Overall, 52-68% of Australians report visiting some kind of CAM therapist each year, compared to just 38% of Americans who reported using some type of CAM therapy in a 2007 study from the CDC.
This trend towards greater utilization of CAM therapies by Australians is reflected in the number of patients seeing chiropractors; with 15% of Australians under chiropractic care compared to just 8.5% of Americans. 5-6 However, a 2012 CDC study also shows that utilization rates of chiropractic services is higher in certain regions in the US, reaching 16.4% in the West North Central region.
These findings add results from previous studies showing a high levels of patient satisfaction with chiropractic care among elderly and pregnant patients.
Brown BT, et al. Consumer characteristics and perceptions of chiropractic and chiropractic services in Australia: results from a cross-sectional survey. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2014. doi 10.1016/j.jmpt.2014.01.001.
Hawk C, Ndetan H, Evans MW. Potential role of complementary and alternative health care providers in chronic disease prevention and health promotion: an analysis of National Health Interview Survey data. Preventive Medicine 2012;54:18–22
MacLennan AH, Myers SP, Taylor AW. The continuing use of complementary and alternative medicine in South Australia: costs and beliefs in 2004. Medical Journal of Australia 2006;184:27–31
Xue CC, Zhang AL, Lin V, Da Costa C, Story DF. Complementary and alternative medicine use in Australia: a national population-based survey. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 2007;13:643–650
2007 Statistics on CAM Use in the U.S. http://nccam.nih.gov/news/camstats/2007.
Regional Variation in Use of Complementary Health Approaches by US Adults. CDC. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db146.pdf.