Integration of Doctors of Chiropractic Into Private Sector Health Care Facilities in the United States: A Descriptive Survey

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Abstract

Objective:

The purpose of this study was to describe the demographic, facility, and practice characteristics of doctors of chiropractic (DCs) working in private sector health care settings in the United States.

Methods:

We conducted an online, cross-sectional survey using a purposive sample of DCs (n = 50) working in integrated health care facilities. The 36-item survey collected demographic, facility, chiropractic, and interdisciplinary practice characteristics, which were analyzed with descriptive statistics.

Results:

The response rate was 76% (n = 38). Most respondents were men and mid-career professionals with a mean 21 years of experience in chiropractic. Doctors of chiropractic reported working in hospitals (40%), multispecialty offices (21%), ambulatory clinics (16%), or other (21%) health care settings. Most (68%) were employees and received salary compensation (59%). The median number of DCs per setting was 2 (range 1-8). Most DCs used the same health record as medical staff and worked in the same clinical setting. More than 60% reported co-management of patients with medical professionals. Integrated DCs most often received and made referrals to primary care, physical medicine, pain medicine, orthopedics, and physical or occupational therapy. Although in many facilities the DCs were exclusive providers of spinal manipulation (43%), in most, manipulative therapies also were delivered by physical therapists and osteopathic or medical physicians. Informal face-to-face consultations and shared health records were the most common communication methods.

Conclusions:

Doctors of chiropractic are working in diverse medical settings within the private sector, in close proximity and collaboration with many provider types, suggesting a diverse role for chiropractors within conventional health care facilities.

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