|dc.description.abstract||Background: In order to develop a balanced healthcare system, healthcare
integration and inter-professional communication is important and allows for
optimum healthcare benefits for a patient and improves cost-effectiveness. The
chiropractic profession has been trying to improve inter-professional
communication with the medical profession. Kimberly Hospital Complex (KHC) is
a tertiary provincial hospital situated in the Northern Cape and since 1998, a
permanent chiropractic post exists at this hospital, making it the only state
hospital in South Africa with a full-time chiropractic clinic and post.
Purpose: To determine the knowledge and perceptions of the medical staff
about chiropractic at KHC.
Method: This study was achieved by means of a questionnaire, which was
modified to suit a South African context by means of a focus group. The
questionnaire was personally delivered to 975 medical staff members at KHC. A
response rate of 30% (n = 292) was achieved and the data was analysed using
SPSS version 15 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, III, USA).
Results: The mean age of the respondents was 37.3 years and most were
female (78.9%, n = 289). Doctors (62.5%, n = 54) and therapists (61.6%, n = 10)
had a higher knowledge percentage score than nurses (48%, n = 213) or other
healthcare professions (56.8%, n = 15). Doctors (77.8%, n = 42), therapists
(100%, n = 10) and other healthcare professions (69.2%, n = 9) were more
inclined to think that chiropractic is an alternative healthcare service, while
nurses perceived chiropractic as a primary healthcare service (43.3%, n = 91).
Many respondents were unaware of the fact that Diagnostics, Emergency
Medical Care, Pharmacology and Radiology are included in the chiropractic
curriculum and that chiropractic leads to a Master’s degree. Seventy five percent
(n = 203) believed that chiropractors are competent in the general medical
management of patients, but they would still rather refer patients to
physiotherapists and orthopaedic surgeons. Despite the poor level of knowledge
of chiropractic, 79.2% (n = 224) believed that it is sufficiently different from
physiotherapy to warrant two separate professions and few (24%, n = 69)
perceived it as unscientific. A large proportion of the respondents (80.3%, n =
228) believe that chiropractic is not well promoted in South Africa and only 20.8%
(n = 59) felt that they know enough about the profession to advise a patient. The
majority wanted to learn more about the chiropractic profession (95.8%, n = 277),
especially pertaining to the scope and the treatment employed by chiropractors.
Seventy-nine percent (n = 212) believed that patients benefit from chiropractic at
KHC and 95.4% (n = 268) felt that South African hospitals would benefit from
Conclusion: Due to the poor level of knowledge at KHC, an educational drive
should be employed to educate the medical staff in order to increase their
understanding of chiropractic and to aid chiropractic integration into the state
hospital system of South Africa.||en