Objectives: The purpose of this study was to describe the chiropractic profession in NSW, in terms of the demographic, educational and socio-demographic background ofthe chiropractic profession. Information regarding clinics and patient characteristics was also collected and discussed.
Methods: A 64 item, cross-sectional survey questionnaire was constructed using a structured questionnaire in consultation with the local regulatory authority at that time, the NSW Chiropractic Registration Board. Survey questions were sent to 1244 registered chiropratics in NSW in 2005/2006 (CAA and non CAA members).
Results: Demographic information: The sample of surveyed chiropractic comprised of 171 male (76%), and 54 females (24%) respondents with the majority of respondents being between 30 and 50 years (71.2%). Of the chiropractors surveyed, 94% were still in active practice. From this sample, chiropractic in NSW tend to live and work in metropolitan areas, with the remaining 30% living and practicing in rural and remote areas (or interstate).
Education of Respondents: Close to 90% of participants graduated from one of three Australian chiropractic shchools (Macquarie University, Sydney College of Chiropractic, RMIT/Phillip Institute of Technology) with a total of 16 chiropractic schools represented in our sample. Overall, respondents felt they were better trained in medical aspects compared to the business and administration aspects of the profession. Eighty six present (86%) of respondents believed that clinical practice met their expectations as a student.
Practice Characteristics: At the time of the survey, of those who were active in practice, the majority of reapondents (79%) reported they were at only one clinic. For the majority of respondents who were not in practice, the main reason was retirement.
Income and Operation of Practice: The most reported income bracket was $90-114k (20%) with approximately 62% of surveyed chiropractors earned over $90k per annum. The most common way for patients to hear about a chiropractor was through word of month, with 92% of respondents indicating this referral method. Surveyed chiropractors indicated that standard musculoskeletal complaints (75.8%) were the most frequently encountered problem among chiropractic patients. Forty percent of chiropractors indicated 'pediatrics' as a common patient group, followed by geriatrics, sporting injuries and women's health.
Conclusion: The socio-demographic and practice characteristrics found in this study are in line with previously published data from the United States, UK and Europe. The information found in this survey may be used as a guide to assist undergraduate and postgraduate chiropractic educational programs in 'closing the gap' between chiropractic education and clinical practice.
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