An exploration of the current status quo of animal chiropractic in South Africa
Bosman, Pieter Jacobus
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Background: Animal chiropractic, an internationally sanctioned profession, assists veterinarians with a complementary approach to animal healthcare therapy. Animal chiropractic in South Africa appears to be within its novel stages of development and no clear parameters define its present position. As a result of ambiguity and present concern dictated by veterinary regulation, animal chiropractic has not developed along well defined parameters, and it is thought that this study will contribute to achieving some clarity in this regard. The impetus for this study originated as a result of an increased awareness within the complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) field of these CAM therapies in the management of animal healthcare, and a growing interest in their application. Objective: The purpose of the study is to identify the current status of animal chiropractic in South Africa and to explore ways in which the integration of animal chiropractic into the animal healthcare setting of South Africa might be achieved. Method: This study is an interpretive investigation set in a post-positivistic paradigm and used a grounded theory approach. Data was collected from twelve semi-structured interviews (digitally voice recorded) with relevant stakeholders who were knowledgeable within their respective fields (animal chiropractic; veterinary health science; their respective governing bodies; and owners of animals which had received treatment from animal chiropractic). Questions addressed participants’ perceptions and experiences of animal chiropractic with regard to the role it plays, current interprofessional interactions and developmental issues facing the profession. Qualitative analysis of the data was done using NVIVO 9 software (NVivo 9, developed in Australia, copyright 2011 QSR International Pty Ltd.). The purpose of the data collection was to obtain knowledge presently available within the proposed field in order to build a credible theory which might explain the current status of animal chiropractic in South Africa and the way forward to professional integration with mainstream animal healthcare practice. iv Results: Applying a process of grounded theory methodology revealed that certain key prerequisites were needed for integration of animal chiropractic with mainstream animal healthcare to take place. Firstly, animal chiropractic practitioners had to be seen to have reached a certain level of competence, which could be achieved through a recognised educational programme and by following practising standards at the same (or similar) level as veterinary practitioners. Secondly, acceptance by the public and mainstream practitioners is vital, and requires that the need for animal chiropractic is well motivated, that the role of animal chiropractic is better defined, and that collaboration with mainstream professionals is implemented. Thirdly, animal chiropractic needs careful regulation in order for it to be controlled appropriately. This will require a suitable professional body to govern it, legislation to endorse it and guidelines to direct its actions. Lastly, resources must be available, such as enough animal chiropractors interested in entering the field, sufficient qualified instructors (i.e. experienced animal chiropractors) to provide tuition, adequate amenities, and sufficient time available for the profession to develop and the integration process to take place. Conclusion: It would appear that, with CAVM therapies becoming popular, more people are becoming interested in animal chiropractic. The study suggests that, if the animal chiropractic profession makes provision for achieving the prerequisites of competence, acceptance, regulation and resources in terms of its future development, it might be possible to achieve professional integration with mainstream animal healthcare within the next ten years.