An investigation into the knowledge and perception of rugby coaches in the greater Durban area with regards to chiropractic and other sports medical personnel
Butt, Charlton Kenneth
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Introduction: One of the most important responsibilities of a rugby coach towards players is that of injury prevention and advice. Often these responsibilities fall solely on the coach, but sometimes he has the benefit of sports medical personnel at his service. Therefore in order for the coach to best service this sport and industry, his/her knowledge and perception of Chiropractic and other sports medical personnel is critical. Objective: To establish an understanding of Durban rugby coaches’ perceptions and knowledge of Chiropractic to formulate initiatives aimed at bridging gaps and building co-operation between coaches and various medical personnel that they have at their disposal. Methods: A survey was distributed to 149 rugby coaches within 23 high schools and 67 rugby coaches within 24 rugby clubs, resulting in a total of 219 rugby coaches in the greater Durban area received a questionnaire for completion and return. Results: Of the 85 coaches that participated (38.8% response rate), the majority were White (95%), male (99%), with a mean age of 37.36 years and coached at the amateur level (65.1%). School coaches dominated the participants with 67.1% with 61 (71.8%) having obtained a rugby coaching qualification and 26 (30.6%) having another professional sport, fitness or medical qualification besides that of rugby coaching. Most (94.9%) participants referred players to a health professional for examination and / or treatment. This included Physiotherapists, 80% of the time, GPs 70.6% of the time and Chiropractors, 60% of the time. Twenty-nine (34.1%) had a Chiropractor on their medical management team and 28 (96.6%) said it was a positive experience. Of those who did not have a Chiropractor on the team, 82.4% said they would consider it in the future. Over half (65.5%) had personally been treated by a Chiropractor. The 3 most frequent conditions associated with Chiropractic included: Disc herniation (42.6%), low back pain (36.1%) and whiplash (32.8%). Notwithstanding this outcome, the level of knowledge was low with the mean knowledge score (an aggregate knowledge score derived statistically from all questions relating to the knowledge of Chiropractic) of the group was 55.8% (SD 21.9%), even though the range varied from 0 to 96%. Although the coaches’ knowledge of Chiropractic was low, most participants (76.2%) had a favourable view of the Chiropractic profession. Furthermore the coaches perception of Chiropractic related significantly to their knowledge (p = 0.037). In addition the higher their knowledge scores the more positive their view. Conclusion: This study established what knowledge base is available that could promote rugby coaches greater understanding of the Chiropractic profession and related medical personnel. There was a positive association between increased knowledge and a better perception of Chiropractic, suggesting that if knowledge were improved, then perception and attitude towards Chiropractic and related medical personnel would further improve. This increased awareness may improve knowledge, understanding, communication and utilization with the Chiropractic profession and related medical personnel and ultimately these professions within rugby may gain a greater level of acceptance.