A demographic and descriptive survey of chiropractic patients at the chiropractic clinic at Kimberly [i.e. Kimberley] Public Hospital Complex
Objective: The majority of information available on chiropractic patients originates from private practices in developed countries. However, recently reports describing chiropractic patients in South Africa have emerged, reporting on private practices and teaching clinics. Therefore, the overall purpose of this study was to determine the characteristics of patients presenting to a public chiropractic facility at the Kimberley Hospital Complex (KHC) in South Africa; and compare to the local and international private practices and teaching clinics. Methods: The period prevalence was three months in which information was extrapolated from patient files of the patients that presented to the KHC Chiropractic Clinic (KHCCC). Information that was collected included demographic data, common presenting complaints, patient history and common management protocols. Results: Data for 157 patients were recorded. The mean age of patients was 47.5 years, majority of the patients were female (70%), comprised of coloured and black patients (85%), where the greater part had a primary education level. Less than half the patients were employed in manual type of occupation, whilst almost one quarter of the patients were pensioners. By far, the greatest reason that patients visited chiropractors within the public health care sector at the KHCCC in South Africa was for chronic musculoskeletal complaints (68%). Majority presented with spinal complaints of the lower back (n=144), the most common diagnosis made was sacroiliac syndrome (48%). X-rays were the most common special investigation requested by KHCCC. The most common co-morbidities reported were hypertension, followed by diabetes and allergies. More than half the sample had undergone previous surgery. Thirty seven percent of patients received treatment for fewer than six visits. Contraindications to chiropractic treatment were indicated in only three patients. The treatment protocols that were predominantly used at the KHCCC were joint manipulation, followed by dry needling, kinesiotape and soft tissue therapy. Two thirds of all patients that were referred to the KHCCC were referred from within the medical profession. With regards to the chiropractic patients globally, similarities respect to patients in the public sector in South Africa to all sectors both locally and internationally, include factors such as majority female patients, top five anatomical locations of complaint, common usage of x-rays as a special investigation, similarities with co-morbidities including cardiovascular and endocrine, the repeated number of visits for the same complaint and manipulation remained treatment of choice. Conclusion: Although this was purely a demographic and descriptive study in nature, it gave a better understanding of patients that presented to a public hospital in a developing country like South Africa. With this demographic and descriptive information obtained in this study, it confirmed that although there is a unique population utilising chiropractic services within the public sector of South Africa, meaningful similarities have been found between patients in the different sectors in South Africa and internationally.