This paper reports the results of a telephone survey of 693 respondents which was commissioned by the New Jersey Chiropractic Society. This exploratory study provides a broad-ranging and critical examination of key aspects relating to the chiropractic profession as it is practiced in New Jersey. The study concludes that chiropractic in New Jersey is a viable means of treating various disorders, but there remains much confusion and distrust among prospective and current patients as well as the threat of heightened competition from other health professionals. Chiropractic must develop clear boundaries around the number and extent of the conditions it claims to treat, and must substantiate its claims with valid clinical trials. A research-based education campaign is necessary if the discipline is to encourage nonusers to become users. The most powerful vehicle for influencing public opinion and the number of referrals is family and friends. The findings also indicate that comparisons with medical doctors can backfire, making the "chiropractic physician" (the professional label preferred by most respondents) less qualified by comparison. Rather than reject the paradoxical nature of their role as primary care physicians and specialists in spine-related disorders, chiropractors should embrace this uniqueness and establish themselves as a integral component of the health care network. Clearer boundaries, a grounding in scientific clinical research and better interprofessional relations can ensure continued growth and success in New Jersey.
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