An Audit of Health Products and Services Marketed on Chiropractic Websites in Alberta and Consideration of These Practices in the Context of Chiropractic Codes of Conduct and Ethics
Page, Stacey A
The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association 2007 Jun ; 51(2): 91-8
BACKGROUND: Chiropractic's success as a health care profession is evidenced in part by the rising number of practitioners. Paradoxically, this success may start to cost the profession, as the number of consumers may not be increasing proportionally. Fewer patients mean less income for practitioners. Some chiropractors are responding to these pressures by marketing health products, and services. OBJECTIVES: To describe the extent to which Alberta chiropractors with websites sold health products and the extent to which fee discounts/service inducements were advertised. To consider these practices in the context of chiropractic codes of conduct and ethics. METHODS: Chiropractic websites in the province of Alberta were identified using the online Telus Business Finder and cross-referenced with the Yellow Pages print directories. The websites were searched and an inventory of the health products for sale was recorded. Fee discounts and service inducements were also recorded. RESULTS: 56 websites were identified and reviewed. Just under two-thirds of the chiropractic websites surveyed contained information on health products for sale. Orthotics were sold most often (N = 29 practices; 51.8%), followed by pillows and supports (N = 15: 26.8%), vitamins/nutritional supplements (N = 15; 26.8%) and exercise/rehabilitation products (N = 10; 17.9%). Nine practices (16.1%) offered some type of inducement to potential customers. These included discounts on treatment packages (N = 2; 3.6%), free gait/ posture analyses (N = 2; 3.6%) and free general consultations with the chiropractors (N = 3; 5.4%) CONCLUSIONS: The marketing of health care products and services by chiropractors in Alberta is common. Such practices raise ethical considerations for the profession. Professional guidelines vary on the acceptability of these practices. Consumer and practitioner perspectives and practices regarding retailing need to be further examined.
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