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J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2007 Jul-Aug;30(6):419-31.

Consent: its practices and implications in United kingdom and United States chiropractic practice.

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Institute for Musculoskeletal Research and Clinical Implementation, [AECC], Bournemouth, UK. <>



This study explores the implementation of consent procedures in a sample of chiropractors in the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States (US) and how well they satisfy the core ethical principles of autonomy, veracity, justice, nonmaleficence, and beneficence.


A precoded questionnaire was sent to 500 geographically stratified, randomly selected chiropractors in the UK and 500 similarly selected chiropractors within 10 states (50 from each) across the US. Questionnaires were dispatched 100 per month over a 5-month period. Nonresponders were followed up twice. Quantitative data were analyzed descriptively. Qualitative data were charted and examined for emergent themes.


The overall response rate was 35% (346 of 1000), equating to 23% (n = 117) of the US and 46% (n = 231) of the UK cohort. Results suggest chiropractors view consent as an event rather than a process and revealed important omissions in key areas. Reasons specified for the nondisclosure of risk have important negative implications on the principles of autonomy, veracity, and justice, whereas paternalistic tendencies are indicative of tension between beneficence and paternalism.


Results from this survey suggest a patient's autonomy and right to self-determination may be compromised when seeking chiropractic care. Difficulties and omissions in the implementation of valid consent processes appear common, particularly in relation to risk. Practitioners felt that a serious adverse event occurred so infrequently that this, coupled with a lack of convincing evidence regarding the risk associated with certain treatment, rendered the routine discussion of major risk unnecessary.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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