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Majority of Americans Say Chiropractic Works for Neck and Back Pain

Chiropractic care has a positive reputation among many U.S. adults for effective treatment of neck and back pain, with about six in 10 adults either strongly agreeing (23 percent) or agreeing somewhat (38 percent) that chiropractors are effective at treating these types of pain.

These findings come from the first-ever nationally representative annual survey of U.S. adults measuring perceptions of and experiences with chiropractic care. Chiropractic care focuses on neurological and musculoskeletal health and aims to favorably affect overall health and well-being, relieve pain and infirmity, enhance performance, and improve quality of life without drugs or surgery. Palmer College of Chiropractic, the founding and largest college of chiropractic in the world, commissioned Gallup to design and conduct this study of 5,442 adults, aged 18 and older, in the U.S.

Many adults in the U.S. have positive perceptions of chiropractors. Nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults either strongly agree (30 percent) or agree somewhat (33 percent that most chiropractors have their patient's best interest in mind. Slightly more than half of U.S. adults also agree that most chiropractors are trustworthy. Fewer than 10 percent disagree with either of these statements.

Half of all adults in the U.S. have had some experience as a patient of a chiropractor, including 14 percent of respondents—or an estimated 33.5 million U.S. adults—in the 12 months prior to the study. These recent users of chiropractic visited a chiropractor an average of 11 times during that time period. An additional 12 percent of respondents—an estimated 29 million U.S. adults—say they saw a chiropractor in the last five years, but not in the past 12 months. Together, Gallup estimates that 63 million adults in the U.S. have seen a chiropractor in the last five years. One in four adults last saw a chiropractor more than five years ago, and nearly half (49 percent) have never seen a chiropractor.

Chiropractic use is not isolated to certain types of people living in the U.S. Adults that have been to a chiropractor in the last five years span the age spectrum and come from different racial, educational and socioeconomic backgrounds. While there are not many demographic differences among recent users of chiropractic care, there are notable differences among people that have visited a chiropractor before and those that have not.

Adults aged 35 and older (56 percent) are more likely than younger adults (37 percent) to report that they have been to a chiropractor. Blacks are less likely than whites or Hispanics to report having seen a chiropractor. Also, men are slightly less likely than women to say they have ever seen a chiropractor.

When given a choice of five different healthcare providers they might see about neck and back pain, regardless of cost, slightly more than half of adults (54 percent) say a medical doctor would be their first choice, followed by 29 percent saying they would most like to see a chiropractor. Less than 10 percent would prefer to see a physical therapist, massage therapist or acupuncturist for neck or back pain.

With the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases estimating that eight out of 10 people will suffer from back pain at some point in their lives, the chiropractic industry could be poised for considerable growth in the future.

Source: 2015 Gallup-Palmer Inaugural Report: Americans' Perceptions of Chiropractic, from poll conducted by Gallup for the Palmer College of Chiropractic. For more information, visit Palmer.edu/Gallup-report.

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