Background: Some chiropractors suggest that chiropractic treatment is appropriate for health issues other than musculoskeletal problems. The prevalence of such claims on individual clinic websites has previously been reported as approximately one-in-four in Denmark. The underlying rationales for such claims may reflect convictions about traditional chiropractic subluxations paradigms, but are not self-evident and has not previously been studied.
Methods: An exploratory qualitative case interview study of Danish chiropractors with websites which contain claims about chiropractic efficacy in the treatment of non-musculoskeletal disorders. Websites were identified from a nation wide random sample (57%) of all chiropractic clinic websites.
Results: Of the original 139 websites, 36 were identified as mentioning non-MSK conditions. When revisited, 19 of those clinic websites still mentioned non-MSK disorders and were contacted. Eleven (11) declined our invitation to participate. Interviews were conducted with the responsible chiropractor from each of the remaining 8 clinics.
Five distinct themes were identified in the rationales for treating non-musculoskeletal disorders: ‘Positive side-effects,’ ‘Experience,’ ‘Web page,’ ‘Communication’ and ‘Conviction.’
Conclusions: A minority of Danish chiropractic websites suggest that non-musculoskeletal disorders are within the chiropractic scope of practice. Those that do, do so for varying reasons—poor communication and website maintenance were commonly cited problems. An explicitly stated adherence to traditional chiropractic subluxations concepts was uncommon. By contrast, a more tempered rationale that suggested a potential beneficial side-effect of chiropractic on non-musculoskeletal health issues were more common and was typically presented in softer-language and/or with some reservations.
Author keywords: Chiropractic — Web page — Non-musculoskeletal — Scope of practice — Type-O
Author affiliations: SO: Spinecenter of Southern Denmark, University Hospital of Southern Denmark, Middelfart, Denmark; SO: Institute of Regional Health Research, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark; ABW, NKS, CM, RK: Department of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark; RKJ: Chiropractic Knowledge Hub, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark
Corresponding author: Søren O'Neill—firstname.lastname@example.org
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