OBJECTIVE: To describe basic characteristics of Danish chiropractic patients.
DESIGN: Survey questionnaire. All chiropractic clinics in Denmark were asked to collect information on new patients during 1 randomly assigned week in 1999.
SETTING: Private chiropractic practice and a nonprofit research institution.
OUTCOME MEASURES: Age and sex, location and duration of chief complaint, pain intensity, limitation of activities of daily living from chief complaint, and mode of referral.
RESULTS: Eighty-eight percent of all chiropractic clinics in Denmark participated in the study. Out of 2020 patients from the participating clinics, 1897 (94%) filled out a self-administered questionnaire. The mean age of participants was 42 years, and slightly more women than men returned the questionnaire. By far the most frequent area of complaint was pain related to the lower back (50%) followed by pain related to the neck (15%). The majority of patients had complaints in the subacute or chronic category (duration 1-6 months). Patients with sciatica had significantly higher pain scores and limitation in activities of daily living (ADL) than any other group, whereas patients with neck pain tended to score lower. Patients in the subacute category had the highest pain scores and limitation in ADL. For complaints lasting more than 6 months, limitation in ADL remained constant at a low level. Twenty-three percent of all patients were referred to the chiropractor, most frequently by a general medical practitioner. More than half of all patients had previously been treated for the same or similar problems, most frequently by a chiropractor. Fifty-one percent had also received chiropractic care for other types of problems.
CONCLUSIONS: Most Danish chiropractic patients complain of pain related to the low back or neck of between 1 and 6 months' duration. This study confirms that chiropractic is fairly well integrated in the Danish primary health care system. There are differences between the chiropractic patient population in Denmark compared with that of Sweden and Holland.
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