Background: With increasing morbidity and mortality attributable to non-communicable disease, primary healthcare providers are urged to increasingly support people in making healthy lifestyle choices. Many chronic physical diseases associated with lifestyle behaviours have been linked to neuromusculoskeletal disorders and pain. Chiropractors, as primary healthcare professionals, are in a position to provide preventative and promotional healthcare to patients, however, it is unknown to what extent such care is provided, particularly in the United Kingdom (UK).
Method: This study was a cross sectional online questionnaire distributed to four UK chiropractic associations. The responses were collected over a period of two months from March 26th 2012 to May 25th 2012. Descriptive analyses were performed to identify the trends in current practice of chiropractors in the UK. Additionally, subgroup analyses of all items were performed using Pearson Chi-Square tests to determine statistically significant differences between respondents based on gender, years in practice, educational institution and association membership.
Results: Of the 2,448 members in the four participating associations, 509 chiropractors (approximately 21%) completed the survey. The great majority of UK chiropractors surveyed report evaluating and monitoring patients in regards to posture (97.1%), inactivity/overactivity (90.8%) and movement patterns (88.6%). Slightly fewer provide this type of care for psychosocial stress (82.3%), nutrition (74.1%) and disturbed sleep (72.9%). Still fewer do so for smoking (60.7%) and over-consumption of alcohol (56.4%). Verbal advice given by the chiropractor was reported as the most successful resource to encourage positive lifestyle changes as reported by 68.8% of respondents. Goal-setting is utilised by 70.7% to 80.4% of respondents concerning physical fitness issues. For all other lifestyle issues, goal-setting is used by approximately two-fifths (41.7%) or less. For smoking and over-consumption of alcohol, a mere one-fifth (20.0% and 20.6% respectively) of the responding chiropractors set goals.
Conclusions: UK chiropractors are participating in promoting positive lifestyle changes in areas common to preventative healthcare and health promotion areas; however, more can be done, particularly in the areas of smoking and over-consumption of alcohol. In addition, goal-setting to support patient-provider relationships should be more widespread, potentially increasing the utility of such valuable advice and resources.
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