Original Article| Volume 28, ISSUE 9, P645-653, November 2005

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Characteristics of Chiropractic Practitioners, Patients, and Encounters in Massachusetts and Arizona


      To describe chiropractic care using data collected at the time of each patient visit.


      Random samples of chiropractors licensed in Arizona and Massachusetts were recruited to participate in interviews about their training, demographics, and practice characteristics. Interviewees were then recruited to record information about patient condition, evaluation, care, and visit disposition on 20 consecutive patient visits.


      Data for 2550 chiropractic patient visits were recorded. Care for low back, head and neck pain accounted for almost three quarters of visits. Extremity conditions and wellness care accounted for approximately half of the remaining visits. Spinal and soft tissue examinations were the most frequently reported diagnostic procedures (80% and 56% of visits, respectively), and high-velocity spinal manipulation techniques were the most frequently reported therapeutic procedures (almost 85% of visits). Rehabilitation exercises, thermal modalities, electric stimulation, and counseling/education/self-care were each performed during approximately 25% of visits. Approximately 85% of patients seen were self-referred, whereas only approximately 5% came from medical physicians. Approximately 35% of visits had an expected source of payment directly from the patient. Approximately 80% of visits ended with a plan for the patient to return at a specified time.


      These findings are consistent with the findings of previous studies and confirm that chiropractors use conventional patient assessment approaches with specific attention to spinal and musculoskeletal procedures, infrequently incorporating interventions commonly associated with other complimentary and alternative care providers. These findings illustrate that diagnostic assessment and follow-up are integral to chiropractic clinical encounters and offer a baseline for best practices development. The data also offer insight into chiropractic use and may be of interest to chiropractic leaders and education planners for professional development purposes.

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