Background: As is the case around the globe, the Danish chiropractic community appears to be an active service provider for the athletic sub-population. However, a paucity of evidence elucidating the experiences, perceptions, and practices of individuals who identify as ‘sports chiropractors’ complicates strategic development efforts.
Methods: A sequential mixed-methods study was conceptualized in which interview responses from seven purposefully selected stakeholders provided context and informed a national descriptive survey exploring practice characteristics and opinions regarding sports chiropractic among Danish chiropractors.
Results: Thematic highlights included divided opinions on the criteria that define a sports chiropractor, the role of a chiropractor functioning beyond the clinic setting, and the need for a structured approach to developing sports chiropractic as a legitimate sub-specialty.
The survey response rate was 34.9% (227 of 651), with 27% of responders identifying as a ‘sports chiropractor’. Compared to non-sports chiropractors, sports chiropractors engaged in a significantly higher level of interprofessional practice (3.8 versus 2.7 partners), in particular medical doctors (p = 0.016) and personal trainers (p < 0.001). Whether participants identified as a sports chiropractor or not, there was consensus that a high-quality post-graduate qualification and continued education was important. Generally speaking, the framing of sports chiropractic into a protected title was not a priority.
Conclusion: The Danish sports chiropractor tends to be male, has a specialist education and engages other chiropractors, medical practitioners and professional trainers more often as practice partners than generalist chiropractors. The position of the sports chiropractor as a ‘knowledgeable expert’ was seen as more important than establishing a protected title. Experiential training appears to be an untapped resource for developing real-world competency and gaining greater professional exposure. Given the potential for development across Europe, more focus is required on a strategic plan for embedding chiropractic professionals in inter-professional athletic health and performance practice settings.
Author keywords: Chiropractic — Athletic injuries — Mixed methods — Multiple methods — Professional practice — Delivery of health care
Author affiliations: Department of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark
Corresponding author—Corrie Myburgh
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