Objective: The purpose of this paper is to discuss various statements related to chiropractic identity from D. D. Palmer; selected chiropractic organizations, associations, and colleges; and attitudes and perceptions of chiropractic from chiropractic students, practitioners, and patients.
Discussion: For comparison purposes, identity statements and perceptions from the various chiropractic associations and colleges, as well as from students and patients, were explored. Identity statements for chiropractic were searched in various sources such as Palmer’s 1910 textbook, recent literature on viewpoints from chiropractic students and practitioners, and websites for chiropractic colleges and organizations. Palmer taught that the chiropractor’s focus was on vertebral subluxation. Today, a number of chiropractic colleges and organizations continue to include the vertebral subluxation model in their instruction, with a majority of students and practitioners subscribing to the model. Conversely, a number of other colleges and organizations portray chiropractic as being essentially about the treatment of back and neck pain, which is what patients associate with chiropractic. However, settling on any particular identity for the chiropractic profession will likely be met with resistance by some, given the plethora of opinions among chiropractic professionals as to what the identity of the chiropractic profession should be. Common ground between the different factions within the chiropractic profession might be found in a unifying expression such as “functional neurology.”
Conclusion: When a profession’s identity is not clear with respect to its area of interest and mission, then the public may be less inclined to seek its services. Identifying the chiropractic profession with a focus on vertebral subluxation would give the profession uniqueness not duplicated by other health care professions and, therefore, might legitimatize the existence of chiropractic as a health care profession. An identity having a focus on vertebral subluxation would also be consistent with the original intent of the founding of the chiropractic profession.
Author keywords: Chiropractic, Professional Autonomy, Sociology, Medical
This abstract is reproduced with the permission of the publisher. Click on the above link for free full text.