The perception of veterinarians towards chiropractic and the chiropractic treatment of animals in South Africa
Taverner, Charles Bryce
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Introduction: The chiropractic treatment of animals has been integrated into the veterinary health care systems of various countries outside of South Africa. While South Africa has seen the integration of the chiropractic treatment of humans into its health care system, the chiropractic treatment of animals has been slow to develop in this country. This is evident in the lack of a professional association or education system concerning the chiropractic treatment of animals in South Africa. Veterinarians represent the primary contact for animals to receive chiropractic care through referral in South Africa. It is therefore important to ascertain the knowledge and perception that veterinarians have towards chiropractic and the chiropractic treatment of animals as their views and participation could influence the future integration of chiropractic into the veterinary health care system of South Africa. Primary Objective: To determine the perception of veterinarians towards chiropractic and the chiropractic treatment of animals in South Africa. Methods: A questionnaire was set up on an Internet based website. An electronic mail (e-mail) was then sent to all the South African veterinarians with a functional e-mail address registered with the South African Veterinary Council (SAVC), requesting participation in this research. This amounted to 1841 veterinarians. The veterinarians who met the inclusion criteria were then able to access and complete the questionnaire electronically. Results: A response rate of 13.8% was achieved. The respondents were predominantly white (87.1%) with an average age of 41.5 years and a nearly even split between male and female. The veterinary respondents expressed a poor level of confidence relating to their knowledge of chiropractic and its application to the health care of animals. The objective knowledge scores for chiropractic and the chiropractic treatment of animals were 65% and 63%, respectively, giving a reasonably high overall knowledge score of 64%. It was found that the knowledge scores were stronger in the respondents who had iii personally utilized a chiropractor as well as being stronger regarding human chiropractic and overall chiropractic knowledge in those who had referred an animal to a chiropractor. The average score for perceptions of the respondents was relatively low (48%), but positive correlations were found between the knowledge and perceptions of the respondents regarding chiropractic and \ or the chiropractic treatment of animals. It was found that the majority of the veterinarian respondents (79.9%) felt that chiropractors should only be allowed to practice on animals in South Africa under referral from a veterinarian. The majority of respondents (62.4%) further believed that the chiropractic treatment of animals should be governed by the South African Veterinary Council (SAVC) and 57.7 % of the respondents indicated that they would be in favour of the chiropractic treatment of animals being affiliated to the South African Veterinary Association (SAVA). It was determined that 84.4% of the respondents were in support of the formation of a course concerning the chiropractic treatment of animals in South Africa, with 49.1% further stating they would be interested in attending such a course. The majority of respondents indicated that they believed both veterinarians and chiropractors should administer (77.2%) and be able to attend (75.1%) such a course. Conclusion: This study has established a knowledge base that will facilitate greater understanding of the perceptions that South African veterinarians have towards chiropractic and the chiropractic treatment of animals as well as the part they perceive chiropractic to play in the South African veterinary health care system. The various outcomes should be noted when considering the future education of South African veterinarians regarding chiropractic, as well as the development of the chiropractic treatment of animals in South Africa.