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Altern Ther Health Med. 2009 May-Jun;15(3):36-40.

The supply and demand of chiropractors in the United States from 1996 to 2005.

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The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice, Lebanon, New Hampshire, USA.



The chiropractic profession is the largest, most established complementary and alternative medical (CAM) profession in the United States. The use of unconventional healthcare in the United States has increased in recent years, yet little is known about the market for specific CAM professions such as chiropractic.


To evaluate the market for US chiropractors between 1996 and 2005.


We conducted a descriptive study of the chiropractic profession from 1996 to 2005 using data from the Medical Expenditure Survey, the National Center for Education Statistics, and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.


The amount and proportion of outpatient healthcare expenditures on chiropractic care in the United States, total chiropractors, number of chiropractors per adult population (>18 years), graduates from chiropractic schools, and professional income of chiropractors.


From 1996 to 2005 the proportion of outpatient US healthcare expenditures spent on chiropractic care increased from 2.15% to 3.26%. The total number of US chiropractors increased from 43 663 to 52 687 in 2004, but growth slowed between 2002 and 2004, resulting in a decrease in the number of chiropractors per 10000 US adults. Between academic years 1996 and 2001, chiropractic schools graduated about 3700 students each year; however, between 2001 and 2003, the annual number of chiropractic graduates decreased by 28%. Between 1998 and 2005, the inflation-adjusted median self-reported annual income of employed chiropractors fell from $76598 to $67200.


From 1996 to 2005, relative expenditures on chiropractic care increased; however, the number of chiropractic graduates, the rate of growth of chiropractors, and the incomes of chiropractors have declined. Future research is needed to investigate why national expenditures on chiropractic care have increased despite an apparent decrease in the supply of US chiropractors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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