An investigation of bacterial contamination on treatment table surfaces of chiropractors in private practice and attitudes and practices concerning table disinfection

Am J Infect Control. 2011 Feb;39(1):56-63. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2010.05.029.


Background: The attitudes and behaviors of chiropractors regarding table disinfection have not yet been investigated. The purpose of this study was to evaluate (1) the bacterial contaminants present on treatment tables in private chiropractic clinics, (2) the effectiveness of the paper barrier in preventing bacterial deposition, and (3) chiropractors' attitudes and practices regarding table disinfection.

Methods: Defined portions of treatment tables from 14 private clinics in Alberta, Canada were sampled for the presence of bacteria. Growth characteristics and 16S rRNA gene sequencing were used for bacterial identification. In addition, a 12-item survey was administered to southern Alberta chiropractors (n = 79; 81% response rate) inquiring about their attitudes and behaviors regarding table disinfection.

Results: Respondents favored the idea of table disinfection (84%), but only 62% had a routine disinfection protocol. Table sampling revealed the presence of a number of bacteria, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, which were recovered from 3 separate clinics. The paper covering on table headpieces was an effective barrier to bacteria.

Conclusion: Chiropractors have a positive attitude regarding disinfection; however, the risk of infection from treatment tables remains. Modification of the positioning of facial piece paper may be indicated, along with increased emphasis on disinfection.

MeSH terms

  • Alberta
  • Ambulatory Care Facilities
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification*
  • Chiropractic*
  • DNA, Bacterial / chemistry
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • DNA, Ribosomal / chemistry
  • DNA, Ribosomal / genetics
  • Disinfection / statistics & numerical data*
  • Environmental Microbiology*
  • Equipment and Supplies / microbiology*
  • Health Services Research*
  • Humans
  • Private Practice
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • DNA, Bacterial
  • DNA, Ribosomal
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S