Chiropractic Observation and Analysis Study (COAST): providing an understanding of current chiropractic practice

Simon D. French, Melanie J. Charity, Kirsty Forsdike, Jane M. Gunn, Barbara I. Polus, Bruce F. Walker, Patty Chondros, Helena C. Britt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)687-691
Number of pages5
JournalMedical Journal of Australia
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes


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