Method: A survey of members of the Chiropractic Association of Australia was undertaken. Of the 400 randomly selected chiropractors, 138 responded to he mailed questionnaire. Data from closed questions were correlated, and thematic analysis of pen questions was undertaken.
Results: Maintenance care is perceived as a practice for promoting optimal health. Although some respondents believed this could be achieved by spinal adjustment alone, many also advocated lifestyle education. Maintenance care is believed to benefit all age groups and should be continued for life. Treatment schedules should be tailored to patient needs, but frequency varies from weekly to annually. Most effective for musculoskeletal health, maintenance care is also believed to benefit various visceral disorders. Indications for maintenance care ranged from “being alive” to “condition recurrences.” Criteria for evaluating the success of maintenance care varied from “keeping optimal health” (no definition provided) to remaining asymptomatic. Two in three respondents felt that maintenance care should be supported by health funds, and one in three agreed that maintenance care if frequently overused for financial gain.
Conclusion: Maintenance care is an integral part of chiropractic practice. Its benefits are not perceived to be limited to musculoskeletal health. The frequency and type of clinical intervention used to achieve a wellness outcome varies between chiropractors. The criteria for advocating maintenance care and identifying a successful outcome require clarification if this practice is to be acknowledged in conventional health care circles.
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