Background: Councils of Chiropractic Education (CCE) indirectly influence patient care and safety through their role of ensuring the standards of training delivered by chiropractic educational institutions. This is achieved by CCEs defining competence and creating lists of descriptive statements to establish the necessary standards for students to attain before graduating. A preliminary review suggested that these definitions and descriptive lists lacked consensus. This creates the potential for variations in standards between the CCE jurisdictions and may compromise patient care and safety and also inter-jurisdictional mutual recognition. The purposes of this study were 1) to investigate similarities and differences between the CCEs in their definitions of competence, domains of educational competencies, components of the domains of competencies, as represented by assessment and diagnosis, ethics, intellectual development, and 2) to make recommendations, if significant deficiencies were found.
Method: We undertook a systematic review of the similarities and differences between various CCEs definitions of competence and the descriptive lists of educational competencies they have adopted. CCEs were selected on the basis of WHO recommendations. Blinded investigators selected the data from CCE websites and direct contact with CCEs. This information was tabulated for a comparative analysis.
Results: All CCEs’ definitions of competence included the elements of “knowledge”, “skills” and “attitudes” whereas only one CCE included the expected “abilities” element. The educational application of the definition of competency among CCEs varied. A high level of similarity when comparing the domains of competence adopted by CCEs was found despite variations in the structure.
Differences between CCEs became increasingly apparent when the three selected representative domains were compared. CCEs were found to stipulate varying levels of prescriptiveness for graduate entry level standards.
Conclusions: A series of recommendations are proposed to create uniform and high quality international standards of care. Future research should compare the levels of CCEs enforcement of standards to see if similarities and differences exist.
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