A comparative analysis of animal chiropractic regulation within seven countries
Du Plessis, Christine
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Introduction: Chiropractic treatment of animals is a young and dynamic field of interest among chiropractors, veterinarians and animal owners. As a young profession, regulation of animal chiropractic is limited to only a few countries, with regulatory models in various legal paradigms. Bosman (2012) determined through a qualitative investigation that in order for the profession to grow, it would require well defined guidelines, proper governance, appropriate legislation and set educational standards. Presently there is a paucity in the literature regarding animal chiropractic regulation. Through a comparative study of current international animal chiropractic regulatory models, possible international trends in animal chiropractic regulation can be identified. This could assist in identifying any possible short comings or positive developments and possible future areas of progress in the regulation of animal chiropractic. Aim: To determine the regulatory status of animal chiropractic in selected countries, at statutory and professional association level, in order to ascertain whether an international trend in animal chiropractic regulation exists. Method: The study was a comparative analysis. The sample consisted of ten jurisdictions spread over seven countries. These were Australia (Victoria and Queensland), Canada (Ontario and Alberta), Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States of America (Texas and California). The validated data collection sheet (Appendix B) was used to extract quantitative data through the various organisations’ web pages and communication with the relevant organisations. Results: The regulation of the practice of animal chiropractic was found to be in various stages of regulation, with it being unregulated or largely unregulated in three out of the ten jurisdictions included in this study. In seven out of the ten jurisdictions the regulation of the practice of animal chiropractic fell under government devolved authority to the veterinary statutory regulatory body, although regulation was not very extensive in most of these jurisdictions. Four of the jurisdictions with regulation of the practice of animal chiropractic through government devolved authority had national animal chiropractic professional associations and two of the jurisdictions in which the practice of animal chiropractic was unregulated had a national professional association. None of these professional associations held government sanctioned authority. Statutory regulation played a more significant role in regulation of the practice of animal chiropractic in terms of the existence of codes of ethics, complaints and disciplinary procedures and CPD requirements than the national animal chiropractic professional associations did. Significance was also found in the legal requirement of registration as veterinarian or chiropractor in jurisdictions where veterinary referral was a legal requirement for chiropractic practitioners of animal chiropractic and where post-graduate animal chiropractic qualifications were only recognised by the veterinary statutory regulatory bodies if it was a legal requirement for registered veterinarians and chiropractors. No professional statutory regulatory body regulated or required regulation by educational statutory regulatory bodies or international accreditation of animal chiropractic education. The significance of national animal chiropractic professional associations was limited to their codes of ethics as it correlated with their limitation of membership by the professional association to mostly registered veterinary and chiropractic practitioners holding a post-graduate animal chiropractic qualification. Several trends were identified that could either hinder or promote the development of appropriate regulation for the practice of animal chiropractic. Conclusion: From the comparison of the current animal chiropractic regulation it was found that cooperation between veterinary and chiropractic statutory regulatory bodies appears to be important for the development of suitable and effective regulation of the practice of animal chiropractic. The study suggests that there is a need for standardisation and regulation of animal chiropractic education and the definition of the animal chiropractic scope of practice. This study also suggests continuation of cooperation between chiropractors and veterinarians that has been sought since the inception of the animal chiropractic profession. Involvement of functioning national animal chiropractic professional associations with the development of appropriate regulation, defining of animal chiropractic scopes of practice and promotion of the unity, integrity and identity of the animal chiropractic profession is recommended to achieve growth for animal chiropractic as a profession.