New Report Finds Majority of U.S. Adults Likely to Visit a Chiropractic Physician

First-ever nationally representative survey finds chiropractic use higher than previous estimates
(From an ACA Release of September 8, 2015) Arlington, Va. – According to a new Gallup-Palmer report that tested public assumptions about chiropractic care, 57 percent of U.S. adults are likely to visit a doctor of chiropractic (DC) if they experience back or neck pain. This first-ever nationally representative survey, commissioned by Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa, found that 33.6 million Americans (14%) sought chiropractic care in 2014, compared to a previously reported estimate of 20.6 million (8%) in 2012.

The survey discovered that a majority of U.S. adults believe chiropractic physicians are effective at treating neck and back pain. According to the report, more than half of all U.S. adults have visited a DC, and more than a quarter of them would choose chiropractic care first for back or neck pain.

“Chiropractic physicians are trained in the most conservative treatment methods for neuromusculoskeletal complaints,” said American Chiropractic Association (ACA) President Anthony Hamm, DC. “ACA is encouraged to discover that the Gallup-Palmer study found that more than half of U.S. adults have a positive attitude about the use and efficacy of chiropractic services. This is especially relevant in light of the prescription painkiller abuse and overuse that our country is experiencing at this time.” 

The Gallup-Palmer survey also discovered that a lack of knowledge about health insurance coverage for chiropractic care and sensitivity toward costs may be preventing some adults in the United States from using chiropractic services. Nearly half of U.S. adults reported not knowing whether their insurance plans covered chiropractic care. In addition to uncertainty about insurance coverage, the survey found that perceptions about the cost of chiropractic care could also be a factor preventing some individuals from seeking it. About four in 10 adults in the United States were found to believe chiropractic care is too expensive and requires too many visits. According to ACA, however, recent studies have supported chiropractic’s cost-effectiveness in comparison to other forms of treatment.

“Misperceptions about costs and the expected number of visits could be barriers to some adults considering the use of chiropractic services. In fact, most insurance plans cover chiropractic services to some extent, making treatment more accessible and affordable than some may have previously thought,” noted Dr. Hamm. “In addition, the conservative, non-drug approach of chiropractic services should make economic sense for patients preferring to avoid not only more expensive – but also riskier – approaches to pain, such as prescription drugs and surgery.”

Highlights of the full survey, which will be repeated for at least two more years, are available online from Gallup. The full report is available on the Palmer College of Chiropractic website

Source: 2015 Gallup-Palmer Inaugural Report: Americans’ Perceptions of Chiropractic