Chiropractic Integration into Private Sector Medical Facilities: A Multisite Qualitative Case Study

J Altern Complement Med. 2018 Aug;24(8):792-800. doi: 10.1089/acm.2018.0218. Epub 2018 Jul 17.


Objectives: Chiropractic care may have value in improving patient outcomes and decreasing opioid use, but little is known about the impetus for or process of incorporating these services into conventional medical settings. The purpose of this qualitative study was to describe organizational structures, care processes, and perceived value of chiropractic integration within U.S. private sector medical facilities.

Design: Multisite, comparative organizational case study.

Settings: Nine U.S. private sector medical facilities with on-site chiropractic care, including five hospitals and four clinics.

Participants: One hundred and thirty-five key facility stakeholders including doctors of chiropractic (DCs), non-DC clinicians, support staff, administrators, and patients.

Methods: Researchers conducted 2-day site visits to all settings. Qualitative data were collected from audio-recorded, semi-structured, role-specified, individual interviews; standardized organizational data tables; and archival document review. A three-member, interdisciplinary team conducted thematic content analysis of verbatim transcripts using an existing conceptual framework and emergent codes.

Results: These nine medical facilities had unique organizational structures and reasons for initiating chiropractic care in their settings. Across sites, DCs were sought to take an evidence-based approach to patient care, work collaboratively within a multidisciplinary team, engage in interprofessional case management, and adopt organizational mission and values. Chiropractic clinics were implemented within existing human resources, physical plant, information technology, and administrative support systems, and often expanded over time to address patient demand. DCs usually were co-located with medical providers and integrated into the collaborative management of patients with musculoskeletal and co-morbid conditions. Delivery of chiropractic services was perceived to have high value among patients, medical providers, and administration. Patient clinical outcomes, patient satisfaction, provider productivity, and cost offset were identified as markers of clinic success.

Conclusion: A diverse group of U.S. private sector medical facilities have implemented chiropractic clinics, and a wide variety of facility stakeholders report high satisfaction with the care provided.

Keywords: chiropractic; delivery of healthcare; health services research; integrative medicine; interprofessional relations; organizational case studies.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Chiropractic / organization & administration*
  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Integrative Medicine / organization & administration*
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Private Sector / organization & administration*
  • Qualitative Research