Background: The subluxation construct generates debate within and outside the profession. The International Chiropractic Education Collaboration, comprised of 10 chiropractic programs outside of North America, stated they will only teach subluxation in a historical context. This research sought to determine how many chiropractic institutions worldwide still use the term in their curricula and to expand upon the previous work of Mirtz & and Perle.
Methods: Forty-six chiropractic programs, 18 United States (US) and 28 non-US, were identified from the World Federation of Chiropractic Educational Institutions list. Websites were searched by multiple researchers for curricular information September 2016-September 2017. Some data were not available on line, so email requests were made for additional information. Two institutions provided additional information. The total number of mentions of subluxation in course titles, technique course (Tech) descriptions, principles and practice (PP) descriptions, and other course descriptions were reported separately for US and non-US institutions. Means for each category were calculated. The number of course titles and descriptions using subluxation was divided by the total number of courses for each institution and reported as percentages.
Results: Means for use of subluxation by US institutions were: Total course titles = .44; Tech = 3.83; PP = 1.50; other = 1.16. For non-US institutions, means were: Total course titles = .07; Tech = .27; PP = .44; other = 0. The mean total number of mentions was 6.94 in US vs. 0.83 in non-US institutions. Similarly, the mean course descriptions was 6.50 in US vs. 0.72 in non-US institutions.
Conclusions: The term subluxation was found in all but two US course catalogues. The use of subluxation in US courses rose from a mean of 5.53 in 2011 to 6.50 in 2017. US institutions use the term significantly more frequently than non-US. Possible reasons for this were discussed. Unscientific terms and concepts should have no place in modern education, except perhaps in historical context. Unless these outdated concepts are rejected, the chiropractic profession and individual chiropractors will likely continue to face difficulties integrating with established health care systems and attaining cultural authority as experts in conservative neuro-musculoskeletal health care.
Keywords: Accreditation; Chiropractic; Curriculum; Evidence-based practice; Licensure; Philosophy; Professional education.