Background: The chiropractic profession has a long history of internal conflict. Today, the division is between the ‘evidence-friendly’ faction that focuses on musculoskeletal problems based on a contemporary and evidence-based paradigm, and the ‘traditional’ group that subscribes to concepts such as ‘subluxation’ and the spine as the centre of good health. This difference is becoming increasingly obvious and problematic from both within and outside of the profession in light of the general acceptance of evidence-based practice as the basis for health care.
Because this is an issue with many factors to consider, we decided to illustrate it with an analogy. We aimed to examine the chiropractic profession from the perspective of an unhappy marriage by defining key elements in happy and unhappy marriages and by identifying factors that may determine why couples stay together or spilt up.
Main body: We argue here that the situation within the chiropractic profession corresponds very much to that of an unhappy couple that stays together for reasons that are unconnected with love or even mutual respect. We also contend that the profession could be conceptualised as existing on a spectrum with the ‘evidence-friendly’ and the ‘traditional’ groups inhabiting the end points, with the majority of chiropractors in the middle. This middle group does not appear to be greatly concerned with either faction and seems comfortable taking an approach of ‘you never know who and what will respond to spinal manipulation’. We believe that this ‘silent majority’ makes it possible for groups of chiropractors to practice outside the logical framework of today’s scientific concepts.
Conclusion: There is a need to pause and consider if the many reasons for disharmony within the chiropractic profession are, in fact, irreconcilable. It is time to openly debate the issue of a professional split by engaging in formal and courageous discussions. This item should be prioritised on the agendas of national associations, conferences, teaching institutions, and licensing/registration as well as accreditation bodies. However, for this to happen, the middle group of chiropractors will have to become engaged and consider the benefits and risks of respectively staying together or breaking up.
Author keywords: Allied health — Attitude of health Personnel — Chiropractic — Professionalisation — Social perception — Trends
Author affiliations: CL-Y: Institute for Regional Health Research, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark; SII, KJY: School of Health Professions, Murdoch University, Murdoch, Australia; GNK: Department of Physical Therapy, Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada; JH: Department of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark; JH: Nordic Institute of Chiropractic and Clinical Biomechanics, Odense, Denmark
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