BACKGROUND: In Queensland, Australia, patients with work-related injuries must receive a referral from a general medical practitioner to receive treatment from such "nontraditional" practitioners as physiotherapists, chiropractors or osteopaths, even though these nontraditional practitioners are primary care providers outside of the workers' compensation system. The Chiropractors' Association of Australia (Queensland Branch) (CAAQ) believed that injured workers wishing to receive chiropractic care stood little chance of obtaining a medical referral. On the other hand, the General Manager of the Workers' Compensation Board of Queensland maintained that injured workers had little difficulty obtaining such a referral for chiropractic care.
OBJECTIVE: To canvass general medical practitioner attitudes and referral patterns to chiropractors, osteopaths, physiotherapists and other nontraditional practitioners (naturopaths).
DESIGN: A descriptive study in which 1509 general medical practitioners in private practice in Queensland were invited to respond to a mailed questionnaire. The sample represented 50% of all such practitioners in Queensland.
RESULTS: A 52% response rate was obtained with 784 (638 male, 142 female general practitioners) questionnaires returned. Respondents' ages ranged from 27 to 79 yr. The respondents' years in practice ranged from 1 to 55 yr. The survey showed that attitudes and referral patterns were distinctly different depending on the nontraditional practitioner group in question.
CONCLUSION: The survey results confirm that general medical practitioners are highly unlikely to have professional dealings with chiropractors and osteopaths, including referral of patients to said providers, even if the patient requests such a referral, and that general medical practitioners are much more likely to have professional dealings with physiotherapists than with any of the other nontraditional groups considered.
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