A study to explore the perceptions that South African chiropractors have regarding the perceived role and impact of research within the profession
The Chiropractic profession has made significant progress with regard to the production of high quality and clinically relevant research in the last 20 years. This correlates with a spike in development within the chiropractic profession as well as its acceptance by the medical fraternity and public. The responsibility for continuing this positive trend is dependent on the chiropractic graduates and practitioners of the future. Therefore, it is important to establish the current perceptions and utilization of research by Chiropractors, so that future research can be built around the needs and requirements of today’s practitioners, thereby ensuring the profession’s continued development and future in health care. The aim of this study was to determine the perceptions that Chiropractors have of research and its relevance / utilization in practice. Method: The study was a quantitative questionnaire based, self administered survey. The sample group included all Chiropractic practitioners currently practising in South Africa (N=515). Results: There was a response rate of 35% (n=174). The results indicated that the perception of research was very positive overall, with the strongest positive response being that research adds credibility to the profession. However, most respondents disagreed with the statement that chiropractors who had done research had an advantage above those who had not. There was a positive, albeit weak correlation between perceptions and utilization of research, indicating that as perceptions increased, so did utilization of research. The area of greatest concern was that even though a high degree of research utilization was reported by chiropractors, research was least likely to be used to change conditions, policies or practices in practice. v Conclusion: The most significant factors associated with positive perceptions and utilization were found to be publishing in a journal and receiving referrals from other health care practitioners. Chiropractors who indicated an interest in doing research again were also very positively linked to utilization. It would seem that even though chiropractors perceive research positively, their implementation into practice has some hurdles that impede the full integration of research into practice. As very few demographic and personal attributes of the South African chiropractor were found to be primarily responsible for low utilization of research in practice, it can be hypothesised that the factors impeding research implementation are most likely environmental in nature.