Chiropractic website claims related to non-musculoskeletal conditions: a cross-sectional study

Goncalves, Guillaume, Fleuriau, Philippe, Cheron, Charlène, Picchiottino, Mathieu, Pigeon, Sylvain and Jensen, Rikke Krüger (2021) Chiropractic website claims related to non-musculoskeletal conditions: a cross-sectional study. Chiropractic & Manual Therapies, 29 (1). p. 39.

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Abstract: Background: Chiropractors frequently use spinal manipulation therapy as a treatment modality in the management of musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions such as spinal pain and sometimes in the treatment of non-MSK disorders. The latter is not supported by evidence. This study aimed to investigate the extent of non-MSK website claims from French chiropractors to assess if websites were aligned with current recommendations on evidence-based practice. Methods: This was a cross-sectional study of a representative sample of French chiropractors. Information on non-MSK conditions was collected from chiropractic professional websites by two independent observers in June 2020. For each non-MSK condition, it was noted whether a clarifying explanation justifying the mentioning of the condition was available. In addition, data on professional association affiliation status, country of education, years since graduation, and special clinical focus (e.g., seniors, children) were collected. Results: A total of 287 randomly selected websites were included in the study corresponding to 22% of all chiropractors registered in France. One or more of 42 different non-MSK conditions were identified on 231 websites, of which 5 (2.2%) provided a clarifying explanation. 226 (79%) websites mentioned a non-MSK condition without a clarifying explanation. The non-MSK conditions most often mentioned were sleep problems, constipation/digestive problems, unease/discontent in children and menstrual cramps/pains. A larger proportion of the websites advertising treatment for non-MSK disorders was found among those claiming a special clinical focus on infants/children, seniors, pregnant women or athletes compared to those that did not. Also, a larger proportion of chiropractors who were affiliated with a professional association were advertising treatment for non-MSK disorders compared to those who were not affiliated. Conclusions: Eight out of ten chiropractic websites mentioned one or more non-MSK diagnoses or symptoms. It is unclear if this reflects inaccurate communication or if treatments for non-MSK conditions are provided by the chiropractors.

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