Do chiropractors identify with complementary and alternative medicine? Results of a survey

J Altern Complement Med. 2008 May;14(4):361-8. doi: 10.1089/acm.2007.0766.


Objectives: Chiropractic in the United States exhibits characteristics of both mainstream health care and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). The purpose of this project was to investigate the opinions of a sample of chiropractic faculty and practitioners on the appropriate classification of their profession, in terms of CAM versus mainstream.

Design: This was a descriptive study conducted by means of an electronically administered survey to a sample of chiropractic college faculty and practicing chiropractors.

Sample population: The faculty sample consisted of all faculty members holding Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degrees at 4 chiropractic colleges, 2 in the Midwest and 2 in southern California. The practitioner sample consisted of all 108 participants, located in 32 states in the United States, in a chiropractic practice-based research network.

Survey instrument: The survey instrument was based on one used with permission from its authors, who had developed and used it to gather information about respondents' concepts and definitions of health and disease, in order to compare the broad categories of practitioners-mainstream medicine, integrated medicine (IM), and CAM.

Results: Of 191 D.C. faculty invited to participate, 71 (37%) completed the survey. Of the 108 practicing D.C.s invited to participate, 61 (57%) completed the survey. Of the total sample of 132, 69% did not agree that chiropractic should be categorized as CAM. Twenty-seven percent (27%) of 132 thought that chiropractors should be classified as IM; 20% of practitioners and 6% of faculty considered chiropractic mainstream medicine.

Conclusions: The majority (69%) of the chiropractors in this sample rejected being characterized as CAM practitioners, showing some preference for the term IM (27%).

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Chiropractic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Clinical Competence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Faculty, Medical / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Job Description*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States