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01.12.2017 | Systematic review | Ausgabe 1/2017 Open Access

Chiropractic & Manual Therapies 1/2017

Primary prevention in chiropractic practice: a systematic review

Chiropractic & Manual Therapies > Ausgabe 1/2017
Guillaume Goncalves, Christine Le Scanff, Charlotte Leboeuf-Yde



Chiropractors are primarily concerned with musculoskeletal disorders but have the responsibility to deal also with prevention in other areas.


To establish the prevalence of chiropractors who have a positive opinion on the use of primary prevention (PP), their actual use of PP, and the proportion of patients who consult for PP in relation to (i) musculoskeletal disorders, (ii) public health issues, or (iii) chiropractic treatment for wellness.


A systematic search for literature was done using PubMed, Embase, Index to Chiropractic Literature, and Google Scholar and updated on February 15th 2017. Inclusion criteria were: surveys on chiropractors and/or chiropractic patients, information had to be present on PP in relation to the percentage of patients who consult for PP in chiropractic practice or in a chiropractic student clinic, and/or the percentage of chiropractors who reported using PP, and/or information on chiropractors’ opinions of the use of PP, in the English, French, or Scandinavian languages. The review followed the PRISMA guidelines. Articles were classified as ‘good’, ‘acceptable’ and ‘unacceptable’ based on scores of quality items. Results from the latter group were not taken into account.


Twenty-five articles were included, reporting on twenty-six studies, 19 of which dealt with wellness. The proportion of chiropractors who stated that they had a positive opinion on PP was generally higher than the proportion of chiropractors offering PP. Most chiropractors offered some type of PP for musculoskeletal disorders and more than a half stated that they did so in the public health area but also for wellness. For all types of PP, however, it was rarely stated to be the reason for patients consulting. Regardless the type of PP, the proportion of patients who actually consulted specifically for PP was much smaller than the proportion of chiropractors offering PP.


More research efforts have been put into wellness than into prevention of musculoskeletal disorders or public health-related disorders. It therefore seems that parts of the chiropractic profession are in search of an understanding of various aspects of clinical practice over and above its traditional musculoskeletal role. Interestingly, only a small proportion of chiropractic patients consult for PP, despite the readiness of the profession to offer such services.
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