OBJECTIVE: To identify, from a list of conditions prepared by leaders in the Australian chiropractic profession, disorders that medical practitioners regard as suitable for referral for chiropractic care.
DESIGN: A descriptive study in which eight hundred and twenty (820) medical practitioners with an interest in "unconventional" interventions were invited to respond to a mailed questionnaire.
PARTICIPANTS: Medical practitioners with a demonstrable interest in at least one form of nonconventional therapy were surveyed. Seven hundred and ninety-six medical practitioners who subscribe to a professional organization committed to "alternative" nutritional approaches in health care were sent mail. Twenty-four practitioners known to be sympathetic to chiropractic were also included. The response rate was 28%.
RESULTS: Medical respondents who refer to chiropractors more frequently consider a larger number of conditions suitable for chiropractic care than those who never refer. Referral of patients with visceral disorders enjoys relatively little support, especially among practitioners who never actually use chiropractic referral as an intervention option. Analysis of perceptions regarding chiropractic referral of patients with headaches suggests that the perceived etiology of the symptom is a consideration in making referral decisions.
CONCLUSION: Chiropractic referral for musculoskeletal care enjoys substantial support, whereas referral for chiropractic intervention in visceral conditions continues to be largely opposed by those members of the medical profession participating in this study.
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