Objectives: The aim of this report is to describe the demographic charateristics including the age profile, gender differences, income and perceptions of supply and demand of the chiropractic profession in Australia. This workforce study (WFS) was divided into three components, Australian Chiropractors (Stage 1), their patients (Stage 2), and members of the general public (Stage 3).
Methods: A web-based, 64-item, cross-sectional survey questionnaire was issued to registered chiropractors (CAA and non-CAA members) throughout Australia in 2010. At the time of the survey there were 3,892 regIstered chiropractors. Survey invitations were sent to those who were registered chiropractors, and had provided email addresses (n=1,917).
Results: Demographic Characteristics: There is evidence to suggest that the profession may be becoming increasingly female over time. Income exclusively from chiropractic care included 27.9% who reported an annual pre-tax net income of $115,000 or less and 32.3% earned more than $115,000. Of the latter group, 12% indicated that they were earning more than $215,000. Income was not related to the hours worked per week particularly for males.
Supply and Demand: When considering their home state and their local region, more chiropractors thought that there was undersupply in their state, but an adequate supply in their local region. A large proportion (40%) of the sample felt that universities in Australia were graduating the correct number number of chiropractors per year, and 32% reported that too many were being produced in Australia. Very few reported that the Unversities were not graduating enough chiropractors.
Conclusion: This paper reflects some of the findings from Stage 1 of the three stage Workforce study, showing a profession heading towards a more even gender balance and characterised by a higher than average annual income. Future research should include the impact on supply and demand of the possibility of an increasingly female profession. In addition to this, although there is a perception that there is under-utilisation of chiropractic services in inland, rural and remote areas, the extent of which should be further explored. Information from this study will assist with strategic decision making and planning. A strategic framework for the profession should not only consider the findings from this study but also explore other factors that may have an impact on supply and demand, for example general trends in health and aging from local and national government reports.
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