Cost of Education, Service Utilization, Number of Practicing Doctors of Chiropractic and Other Key Policy Issues

July 8, 2018

Foundation for the Advancement of
Chiropractic Tenets and Science (1980)


This report presents the most comprehensive information ever gathered and analyzed regarding chiropractic health care in the United States. the project is the first federally sponsored study of chiropractic to look at a broad range of issues of concern to policy makers, the profession and the public. Congress mandated this research through passage of the “Health Professions Assistance Act” (P.L. 94-484 Sec. 903). The topics of investigation are:

  • Cost of education and characteristics of educational programs
  • Supply and distribution of Doctors of Chiropractic and their practice characteristics
  • Estimated utilization of chiropractic services
  • Estimated expenditures on chiropractic services
  • Indicators of adequacy of the supply of Doctors of Chiropractic

The report is divided into two volumes. Volume I presents the findings and conclusions of of the study and how the study was completed. Data was collected in 1979 through the use of three national surveys of segments of the profession:

  • Service Providers, Doctors of Chiropractic in practice more than two years
  • Recent Graduates, Doctors of Chiropractic who have received their degrees in the last two years
  • Chiropractic Colleges

Volume II is the Appendix for the report and includes a glossary of terms, copies of the questionnaires for each of the three groups surveyed, the educational requirements of chiropractic colleges, descriptions of sample sizes and survey procedures and other background materials.

The objective of the study was to describe the profession in such a manner that the Congress, the profession, federal agencies and the general public can be better informed about chiropractic which has survived and grown for 85 years without federal assistance or control. Specific findings of the study include:

  • About 23,000 Doctors of Chiropractic (D.C.) -are currently practicing in the United States.
  • This number will increase by between 10,000 and 13,000 D.C.s who will be graduated from college in the next five years.
  • An estimated $1.3 billion is spent on chiropractic care annually.
  • Doctors of Chiropractic received approximately 130 million patient visits in 1979.
  • The average annual cost of education per student in chiropractic colleges is $3,310. The average length of a degree program is 4.0 academic years, in addition to the prerequisite of two academic years of post-secondary education.

The study also raises some policy questions for the federal government, the chiropractic profession, members of the health care delivery system and the public at large based on these and other findings.

This article was posted on July 8, 2018.