Demographic characteristics of patients attending DUT Chiropractic Day Clinic : a comparison of trends between 1994 and 2011
McDonald, Murray L.
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Background: The Durban University of Technology (DUT) chiropractic teaching clinic (CTC) represents a training facility for future chiropractors as well as providing a healthcare service to the local population. It is important to measure the demographic characteristics and presenting complaints of patients attending the DUT CTC as this information prepares the student interns for private practice. It also provides an insight into the popularity of chiropractic in the community. Objectives: This study sought to measure certain demographic variables and presenting conditions of patients attending DUT CTC and to assess whether these have changed over time. Method: A retrospective, cross-sectional descriptive study was performed by drawing patient files of new patients presenting to the DUT CTC for the months of February through April, during 2000, 2006 and 2011 (data from a 1994 study was included for analysis). The files had the following information regarding the patient collected: age, gender, ethnicity, occupation, medical aid, main presenting complaint, as well the duration of the most recent complaint. The data was analysed for trends using statistical software (SPSS v19). Results: Data from 1 311 patient files were analyzed. The number of patients attending the DUT CTC had reduced significantly since 2000. The mean age ranged from 37.0 – 39.7yrs across the samples with a trend of increasing age occurring between 1994 and 2006. Ages ranged from 2 weeks – 89yrs, with 20 – 29yrs being the most common group. Females formed 50.5 – 51.2% of the samples with no significant change over time. White (46.3 – 64.2%) and Indian patients (27.2 – 40.9%) formed the majority, with Black patients showing a trend of increasing representation (from 6.4% in 2000 to 15.8% in 2011). The most common occupations were student (19.7 – 26.8%) and clerical (17 – 23%), with a trend noted between 1994 and 2006 of a decreasing student proportion. This trend reversed from 2006 – 2011. Medical aid subscription among patients reduced significantly (p<0.05) from 56.2% in 1994 to 41.6% in 2011. The main presenting complaints were spinal (68.2 – 84.1%), with low back (30.7 – 40.7%) and neck/head (27.8 – 33.8%) being the most common. Most main complaints were of a chronic nature (45.8 – 61.7%), though a trend of reducing chronicity was noted between 1994 and 2006. A trend of increasing sub-acute complaints was seen between 1994 and 2011. Conclusions: The patients attending DUT CTC are similar to most international CTC’s in terms of patients’ age, gender, occupation, and main presenting complaint. Compared to existing data on South African private practice, the patients at DUT CTC are generally younger, less likely to be female, less likely to be White, more likely to be Indian or Black, less likely to have medical aid, more likely to present with low back pain as appose to neck/head pain, and more likely to present in the acute/sub-acute phase. Between 1994 and 2006, the trend shows that patients at DUT CTC were older, less likely to be White, less likely to be students, less likely to have medical aid, and less likely to present in the chronic phase.