Objectives: COAST (Chiropractic Observation and Analysis Study) aimed to describe the clinical practices of chiropractors in Victoria, Australia.
Design: Cross-sectional study using the BEACH (Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health) methods for general practice.
Setting and participants: 180 chiropractors in active clinical practice in Victoria were randomly selected from the list of 1298 chiropractors registered on Chiropractors Registration Board of Victoria. Twenty-four chiropractors were ineligible, 72 agreed to participate, and 52 completed the study.
Main outcome measures: Each participating chiropractor documented encounters with up to 100 consecutive patients. For each chiropractor-patient encounter, information collected included patient health profile, patient reasons for encounter, problems and diagnoses, and chiropractic care.
Results: Data were collected on 4464 chiropractor-patient encounters from 52 chiropractors between 11 December 2010 and 28 September 2012. In most (71%) encounters, patients were aged 25-64 years; 1% of encounters were with infants (age < 1 year; 95% CI, 0.3%-3.2%). Musculoskeletal reasons for encounter were described by patients at a rate of 60 per 100 encounters (95% CI, 54-67 encounters) and maintenance and wellness or check-up reasons were described at a rate of 39 per 100 encounters (95% CI, 33-47 encounters). Back problems were managed at a rate of 62 per 100 encounters (95% CI, 55-71 encounters). The most frequent care provided by the chiropractors was spinal manipulative therapy and massage.
Conclusions: A range of conditions are managed by chiropractors in Victoria, Australia, but most commonly these conditions are musculoskeletal-related. These results can be used by stakeholders of the chiropractic profession in workforce development, education and health care policy.