Suggested Guidelines for Chiropractic Ads (1973)

Stephen Barrett, M.D.
January 17, 2018

During the early 1970s, Joel Weisberg, who directed the Pennsylvania Bureau oif Consumer Protection. became concerned about about misleading chiropractic ads that had been appearing in newspapers throughout the state. After meerting with Weisberg, I suggested that the Bureau seek to implement eleven guidelines that I believed would cover most of the falsehoods that were common in such ads.

In March 1973, the Bureau targeted three chiropractors who it believed had made “extreme” statements in their ads. The case was settled with a consent agreement in which they admitted no wrongdoing but agreed to stop the statements that the bureau had challenged. But no attempt was ever made to address the claims to which I had objected and which are still common today.

TELEPHONE 437-179!5

Mr. Joel Weisberg, Director
Pa. Bureau of Consumer Protection
25 South Third Street
Harrisburg, Pa.

Dear Joel:

Noting your comments in Sunday’s (Phila. Bulletin) article, I have a few suggestions re guidelines for chiropractic ads:

  1. No claim may be made that a “spinal checkup” is advisable to prevent future illnesses.
  2. No claim may be made that regular chiropractic care will increase resistance to disease or prolong life.
  3. Chiropractors may not say that chiropractic treats the “cause” or the “underlying cause” of disease.
  4. Use of spinal charts claiming abnormalities, symptoms or diseases result from spinal difficulty which chiropractors can treat is forbidden.
  5. Diseases may not be listed by name in chiropractic ads.
  6. No claim may be made that chiropractors treat “subluxations” “misalignments”, spinal displacements, etc.
  7. Chiropractors may state that they sometimes relieve back pain and other symptoms of pain.
  8. They may also state that they relieve some other symptoms, but “numbness and tingling” may not be included.
  9. No claim may be made via a patient testimonial that would be forbidden for a chiropractor to make directly.
  10. These guidelines apply to advertisements through any media, including newspaper, radio, TV ads, mail ads and handbills of any type distributed outside of a chiropractor’s office.
  11. Chiropractic organizations must adhere to these same standards as individual chiropractors must.

These ideas are stimulated by what chiropractors and chiropractic organizations have actually been doing.

Thanks again for your interest in this matter.



Stephen Barrett, M.D.

This article was posted on 1/17/, 2018.