Chiropractic: International status, education and practice.
Chiropractic, as a profession, has undoubtedly come a far way since its earliest days when the profession was deemed as an unscientific practice, and not respected globally. Since then, chiropractic has constructed a stable platform for itself among other health care professions, and demonstrates a strong role in health care services and policies (1). By doing so, the profession has created an international identity founded upon its training, research, education and practice (1). This tremendous advancement is possible due to chiropractic’s international regulatory bodies, which will be discussed here.
The World Federation of Chiropractic (WFC) is a non-profit organization implemented to support chiropractors, and their profession throughout the world (3). Its members and donations of corporate partners sponsor the WFC, and it is their task to promote and unite chiropractic globally (3). This federation’s mission is to support public advancement of chiropractic and spinal health, by representing numerous members in 7 different global regions (3). Ultimately, the WFC is chiropractic’s international voice and representative, monitoring standards in research, education, and practice (3). The WFC has affiliation with the World Health Organization (WHO), as a non-governmental organization (4). Through this agreement, the WHO supports policies of the WFC, and has implemented programs such as Guidelines on Basic Training and Safety in Chiropractic, which support the standards of chiropractic education set by the WFC (4). Some of the WFC’s most important roles include maintaining chiropractic’s international ideals, establishing uniform policies internationally, as well as maintaining chiropractic’s professional identity (1).
Throughout different regions of the world, there exist varying degrees of legal acceptance of chiropractic (2). There are seven regions, which have been established by the WFC, in relation to their legal standpoint of chiropractic (2). These regions include: African, European, North American, Asian, Pacific, as well as Eastern Mediterranean regions (2). There is no single world region that maintains a set legal status of chiropractic throughout all its countries, however there are undoubtedly regions that legally support chiropractic more than others. An example of this would be the North American region’s acceptance and regulation of the profession, in contrast to the variability of chiropractic in countries of the Asian region (2). Currently, the only countries that prosecute the practice of chiropractic are South Korea and Taiwan (2). On the other hand, the most developed region with the strongest foundation is the European Chiropractor’s Union (ECU), which sets a strong example for other regions with their leading health care policies and laws (1).
The International Federation of Sports Chiropractic (FICS) supports chiropractic internationally, in relation to its importance in sport and education (5). Their mission is to enhance athletic performance naturally, by providing sport specific chiropractic to all athletes, and to further education and research in the chiropractic sport domain (5). Possibly one of their most significant movements is integrating chiropractic into the interdisciplinary world of sport medicine, as well as establishing postgraduate curriculums in sport medicine (1,5).
Since chiropractic is a highly regulated profession, its education must also be maintained to a high standard. This is where the CCEI enters; they are the Councils on Chiropractic Education International (CCEI) (6). This governing body is tasked with the accreditation of chiropractic educational institutions around the globe (6). Perhaps one of their most important jobs is assuring the quality of education by emphasizing their International Chiropractic Accreditation Standards (6). The CCEI assists in the development of newly accredited institutions, in regions where these agencies do not yet exit (6). The CCEI then, takes the first step in providing a specific region with chiropractic standards of education until the region develops their own accrediting body (6).
A more in depth analysis of the topics mentioned previously are found in the documentation created by the WFC called the Chiropractic Report (7). This report was requested by the WHO, and outlines the status of chiropractic as a profession, where it can be legally practiced, and the levels of standards the profession maintains for its education, research as well as practice (7).
In conclusion, it is clear to see that chiropractic’s international identity and efforts have aided in the advancement of the profession. The regulatory bodies discussed here have been an integral part of this movement and will continue to be the key to the profession’s success throughout the next couple decades, as further advancements and policies are made.