Article Touts Increased Demand for Chiropractic and Alternative Services

In the July 14, 2002 issue of the Boston Globe appeared an article with the headline, “Demand for Alternative Medicine Rises – Acupuncturists and Chiropractors Increasingly Sought.” The article defines all forms of healthcare that are not medical as “Alternative Medicine”. Most chiropractors object to the usage of this term since chiropractic care is clearly not medicine. Chiropractic stands as a separate and distinct form of health care.

Despite this terminology issue, the Globe article cited numbers from the National Institutes of Health that calculate that all of “alternative” health care represents a $21 billion-a-year industry. This number should be kept in context. According to figures released in a report on February 7, 2001, the US Census Bureau showed that US health care industry revenues hit $1.01 trillion in 1999. The article also states that surveys show about one-third of Americans visit one of these “alternative” practitioners at least once a year, and that this percentage will increase.

In an attempt to have the medical profession better understand chiropractic and other forms of health care classified as alternative, Tufts University received a five-year, $1.5 million grant last August from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for finding ways to include alternative medicine as part of the required medical school curriculum. Dr. Mary Lee, dean of educational affairs at Tufts’ School of Medicine stated, “The NIH is interested, and so are we, in training traditional doctors to understand complementary medicine.”

To meet the increased demand the article cited statistics and projections that showed the current and future numbers of doctors of chiropractic. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, (BLS) in the year 2000, there were an estimated 49,949 chiropractors. The BLS projects that by 2010 that number will grow to 61,654 chiropractors, representing a 23 percent increase. “Since the average growth rate for all occupations over a 10-year period is 15 percent, those figures are significant,” said BLS economist Alan Lacey. This projected growth represents the ever-increasing desire on the part of the public to continue to embrace chiropractic care.