Prevalence and practice characteristics of urban and rural or remote Australian chiropractors: Analysis of a nationally representative sample of 1830 chiropractors

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Australian Journal of Rural Health, 2019, 27 (1), pp. 34 - 41
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© 2019 National Rural Health Alliance Ltd. Objective: To determine the prevalence and clinical management characteristics of chiropractors practising in urban and rural or remote Australia. Design: A cross-sectional analysis of the Australian Chiropractic Research Network project data. Setting: Nationally representative sample of registered chiropractors practising in Australia. Participants: Chiropractors who participated in the Australian Chiropractic Research Network project and answered a question about practising in urban or rural or remote areas in the practitioner questionnaire. Main outcome measure: The demographics, practice characteristics and clinical management of chiropractors. Results: The majority of chiropractors indicated that they practise in urban areas only, while 22.8% (n = 435) practice in rural or remote areas only and 4.0% (n = 77) practice in both urban and rural or remote areas. Statistically significant predictors of chiropractors who practice in rural or remote areas, as compared to urban areas, included more patient visits per week, practising in more than one location, no imaging facilities on site, often treating degenerative spinal conditions or migraine, often treating people aged over 65 years, frequently treating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and frequently using biomechanical pelvic blocking or the sacro-occipital technique. Conclusion: A substantial number of chiropractors practice in rural or remote Australia and these rural or remote-based chiropractors are more likely to treat a wide range of musculoskeletal cases and include an Indigenously diverse group of patients than their urban-located colleagues. Unique practice challenges for rural or remote chiropractors include a higher workload and a lack of diagnostic tools. Chiropractors should be acknowledged and considered within rural or remote health care policy and service provision.
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