The perceptions of selected stakeholders on the integration of chiropractic into the KwaZulu-Natal healthcare system
Background: Chiropractic in South Africa seems to be gaining acceptance by medicine with increased recognition from the private healthcare sector. This trend is reflected by the recognition of private healthcare providers of chiropractic services. Integration would accelerate the growth of the chiropractic profession in this country. It is therefore important to understand how chiropractic is currently perceived with respect to integration into the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) healthcare system. As well as to determine factors perceived to facilitate or hinder this integration. Objectives: To explore and describe the perceptions of selected stakeholders about the integration of the chiropractic profession into the KZN healthcare system. Method: The sample included ten selected stakeholders within the KZN healthcare sector. Each participant participated in a semi-structured interview. Questions included participants‟ experience of chiropractic, the role and scope of chiropractic practice, and key developmental issues affecting integration. Interviews were captured on a digital voice recorder and transcribed into text. Data was analysed by the use of NVivo software (NVivo 8, developed and designed in Australia, copyright 2008 QSR International Pty Ltd. ABN 47 006 357 213). Results: The majority of participants (n = 7) had a positive experience of chiropractic, but few (n= 2) recognised the diagnostic role of chiropractic. All participants, except two doctors, believed that integrating chiropractic into the public healthcare system would benefit the healthcare fraternity, the chiropractic profession and patients. However, hindering factors perceived by the participants included: chiropractors practicing non-evidence based techniques; chiropractic being registered with a different council and being taught at a different institution to conventional medical professionals; and most importantly a lack of knowledge of the profession. Facilitating factors were III perceived to be: increased education of stakeholders about chiropractic; improved communication between chiropractors and medical doctors; improved marketing strategy; and lastly improved patient management. Conclusions: A positive experience of chiropractic is directly affected by a positive exposure to the profession. The profession itself is responsible for dispelling some of the confusion it has created, by collectively practicing evidence based medicine, and marketing a united message to stakeholders.