Chiropractic Students Want Field to Become More Evidence-Based, Survey Shows

Current chiropractic students want to see their field develop as part of mainstream healthcare while simultaneously adhering to traditional chiropractic theories, the results of a survey released Feb. 2 show.

“Future chiropractors want to maintain traditional principles while pursuing a more scientific understanding of those principles,” the survey’s authors explained in their discussion of the data.

For the survey, 1,247 chiropractic students enrolled in 12 colleges across North America answered 23 questions. Just over 69% of these students said chiropractors should be seen as mainstream healthcare providers.

But a slim majority, 55.2%, were not in favor of expanding the purview of chiropractors to allow them to prescribe medications.

Of the respondents, a large majority said they “strongly agreed” (52.2%) or “agreed” (34.8%) that chiropractors ought to be educated in ways that promote evidence-based practice. However, a smaller majority also strongly agreed (25.8%) or agreed (35.6%) that chiropractic intervention is focused on eliminating subluxations — alignment problems — between vertebrae. The claim that vertebral subluxations have a negative effect on overall health is sometimes labeled pseudoscientific by those skeptical of chiropractic methods.

Lead author Jordan A. Gliedt and colleagues acknowledged the seeming dissonance that would allow chiropractic students to both fully embrace traditional chiropractic practices and want to participate in the mainstream medical establishment, recommending that further research be done on the relationship.

While the exact path of chiropractic care is uncertain, it appears that the field is increasingly being integrated with other types of medical care, especially as physicians are recognizing the danger of over-prescribing medications for pain patients. Multiple studies released as recently as January have addressed the potential for abuse and fatal side effects associated with the prescription of opioid painkillers.

The full results of the chiropractic survey have been published in the journal Chiropractic and Manual Therapies.

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