OBJECTIVE: To assess the chiropractic use of radiography, referral patterns to both medical and chiropractic radiologists and attitudes toward radiologists.
DESIGN: Random sample mail survey.
PARTICIPANTS: Practicing U.S. chiropractors.
RESULTS: The response rate was 46% (197 of 425). Seventy-four percent of the respondents have radiographic facilities in their offices. Contraindication screen (71%), pathological diagnosis (63%), biomechanics and posture (51%) and medicolegal protection (27%) were considered important reasons for taking radiographs. When chiropractors refer for radiographic services, 67% refer to medical radiologists and 17% to chiropractic radiologists. Eighty-five percent agreed that chiropractic radiologists are as well qualified as medical radiologists, but 36% thought that medical interpretation carried more legal authority than chiropractic interpretation. Seventy-six percent of respondents thought that the chiropractic radiologist should be consulted only for second opinions.
CONCLUSIONS: Most chiropractors obtain radiographs for clinical reasons, such as confirming a diagnosis of pathology, but many continue to use radiography as a screening tool and for medicolegal protection. Prevailing attitudes seem to indicate a need for this specialty in chiropractic, but the chiropractic radiological consultant is not widely used. The disparity between the perceived need for chiropractic radiologists and the current utilization patterns requires further research.
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