Background: Chiropractors see themselves as well positioned to provide safe, effective and economical care for the on-going financial burden that spinal pain imposes. However, in many places of the world, the chiropractic profession continues to find itself struggling to gain acceptance as a mainstream allied health care provider. There is evidence of the existence of undesirable chiropractic practice patterns and it is in part due to some of the world’s accredited chiropractic programs. This indicated a need for scrutiny of international chiropractic educational accreditation standards, which are the responsibility of Councils on Chiropractic Education (CCEs). To this end we reviewed an emerging body of evidence about the chiropractic educational system in order to identify issues and make recommendations that may enhance professional acceptance through improved graduate outcomes and hopefully the quality of patient care. This commentary summarisses the findings of that research.
Main text: We reviewed recent relevant studies, including our own, into the role and function of CCEs and found that there is sufficient evidence to identify areas of concern that could be addressed, at least in part, by improvements to CCEs’ educational standards and processes. Areas included a lack of definitions for key terms such as, ‘chiropractic’, ‘diagnosis’, and ‘competency’, without which there can be no common understanding at a detailed level to inform graduate competencies and standards for a matching scope of practice. Further, there is some evidence to suggest that in some cases this level of detail is avoided in order to enable a “big tent” approach that allows for a diversity of approaches to clinical care to co-exist. This combined with the held view that chiropractic is “unique”, highly valued, and best understood by other chiropractors, explains how students and practitioners can cling to ‘traditional’ thinking. This has implications for public safety and patient quality of care.
Conclusion: If chiropractic care is to gain mainstream acceptance worldwide then it needs to adopt, through revitalised CCE accreditation standards and processes, those of other allied healthcare professions and wholeheartedly embrace science, evidence-based practice and patient centred care.
Author keywords: Chiropractic — Accreditation — Profession — Council on chiropractic education
Author affiliations: Author affiliations: SII, CL-Y, BF: College of Science, Health, Engineering and Education, Murdoch University, Murdoch, Australia; BFW: Institute for Regional Health Research, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark
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