The status of paediatric care in chiropractic practices in KwaZulu-Natal
Background: Paediatric visits to complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practitioners results from a wide range of childhood disorders. As there are significant anatomical differences between children and adults, scientific evidence for the effectiveness of chiropractic care for adults is not applicable to paediatrics, leaving a paucity of information supporting the management of paediatric conditions by chiropractors. Most studies regarding paediatrics have been performed in first world countries, leaving a paucity of information about third world countries, where the health care milieu differs. Therefore, this research aimed to determine the practice characteristics regarding paediatric care in chiropractic practices in KwaZulu-Natal. Objectives: This prospective, quantitative, descriptive, cross-sectional study based on a focus group refined and piloted questionnaire, determined the practice characteristics with regards to paediatric practice amongst chiropractors in KwaZulu-Natal. The total sample population was n=118, with each practitioner receiving a Letter of Information and Informed Consent Form and a Questionnaire. Data was analysed using the data analysis tools of Microsoft Office Excel and a p value of <0.05 was considered as statistically significant. Results: A response rate of 36% was obtained. Most of the respondents were middle-aged, female chiropractors who had been practicing for less than a decade. Very few of the chiropractors held paediatric qualifications (18.6%). In terms of paediatric care, most of the respondents used a variety of conservative approaches as evidenced by the type and number of assessments, treatment and management procedures used in practice. Conclusions: The results showed that few chiropractors in KwaZulu-Natal see paediatric patients in their practices; however the chiropractors that managed paediatric conditions were predominantly conservative. This is positive for the chiropractic profession, as it shows diligent and responsible decision making within a vulnerable population group. Future research must assist with facilitating inter-professional relations with other health care professionals and public relations need to be aimed at creating more awareness generally regarding chiropractic paediatric care.