Objective: The use of chiropractic services has stalled while interest in accessing manipulation services is rising. The purpose of this paper is to consider this dilemma in the context of the dynamics of professional socialization, surveys of public attitudes, and a potential strategic action.
Discussion: This is a reflection work grounded in the literature on professional socialization and the attitudes held regarding chiropractic in modern society, to include its members, and in original data on training programs. Data were interpreted on the background of the authors' cross-cultural experiences spanning patient care, research, education, and interprofessional collaboration. Recommendation on a strategic action to counter barriers in patient referrals was synthesized. Professional socialization is the process by which society enables professional privilege. Illustration of typical and divergent professional socialization models emerged that explain cognitive dissonance toward the profession. Questions of trust are commensurate with the experiences during patient encounters rather than with a common identity for the profession. Diversity among encounters perpetuates the uncertainty that affects referral sources. Commonality as an anchor for consistent professional identity and socialization through the content of core chiropractic, defined by training and practice, offers a means to offset uncertainty. Complementary chiropractic, analogous to complementary medicine, provides an outlet under professional socialization for the interests to explore additional methods of care.
Conclusion: The practice workplace is an effective lever for altering barriers to the use of services. Clarifying rhetoric through conceptualization of core and complementary practices simplifies the socialization dynamic. Further, it takes advantage of accepted cultural semantics in meaningful analogy while continuing to empower practical diversity in care delivery in response to evolving scientific evidence.
Keywords: Chiropractic; Delivery of Health Care; Professionalism; Referral and Consultation; Social Identification; Socialization.