OBJECTIVE: To ascertain the attitude toward chiropractic care of Australian medical practitioners who had previously demonstrated a willingness to contemplate a nonconventional mode of clinical intervention.
DESIGN: A descriptive study in which eight hundred and twenty (820) medical practitioners were invited to respond to a mailed questionnaire.
PARTICIPANTS: Only medical practitioners who had demonstrated an interest in at least one form of nonconventional intervention were surveyed. Seven hundred and ninety-six (796) medical practitioners who subscribe to a professional organization committed to 'alternative' nutritional approaches in health care were mailed a questionnaire. Twenty-four practitioners known to be sympathetic to chiropractic were also included. The response rate was 27%.
RESULTS: One quarter of respondents never refer patients to a chiropractor. The major reason given for nonreferral is that physiotherapy is the preferred option. Almost half of the medical practitioners who never refer to chiropractors use manipulation themselves. Half of the medical practitioners who have never referred or have occasionally referred were unsure which of their patients would benefit from chiropractic care. Important referral criteria used by medical practitioners who do undertake chiropractic referral are, in order of importance: prior personal knowledge, the practitioner's professional reputation, qualifications and practice location. These medical practitioners believe that between one and three of every four patients referred received benefit from chiropractic care.
CONCLUSIONS: Increased contact between chiropractors and the medical practitioners who were surveyed could lead to a better appreciation of chiropractic's potential contribution in health care.
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