The knowledge and perceptions of provincial and national Health Portfolio Committee members of South Africa regarding the chiropractic profession
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Aim: The aim of this study was to establish the relationship between demographics of honourable members, their level of knowledge of and the perceptions of the chiropractic profession. Methods: A questionnaire-based survey was administered to 84 Health Portfolio Committee (HPC) members at their meetings as requested through the respective committee secretaries. The questionnaire was administered in a semi supervised fashion at the set meetings. Results: A response rate of 64% revealed that the mean knowledge score of 31.4% was relatively low. The mean perceptions score was 38.2%, indicating an overall negative perception of chiropractic amongst this population. Experience did indeed influence perceptions significantly (p=0.035) with those having consulted a chiropractor before having higher perceptions scores. No significant correlations existed between knowledge and perception and the demographic variables with the exception of ethnicity. This was enhanced by a weak statistically significant positive correlation between knowledge and perceptions score (r=0.394, p=0.004). The weak strength of the correlation shows that in general, as knowledge increased so did perceptions. Conclusion: Generally knowledge and perception of chiropractic was low in this population and seems to be influenced principally by the ethnicity / culture within which the honourable members operate (whether it is within the medical paradigm or their individual cultural orientation). Thus increasing the awareness and knowledge of chiropractic in this group may lead to more positive knowledge scores and perception levels.