Report of the Chiropractic Study Committee to the Governor’s Health Planning and Policy Task Force (Wisconsin, 1972)

Stephen Barrett, M.D.
May 27, 2020

In 1972, when the Wisconsin legislature was considering whether to modify how chiropractors were regulated in Wisconsin, a 3-person committee was appointed to investigate and make recommendations. The trio reviewed pertinent literature; met with representatives of chiropractic and medical organizations; visited Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa; and conducted surveys of chiropractors, osteopaths, and medical doctors.

The Palmer College visit was especially revealing. The report noted:

  • The faculty-student ratio was too low for effective teaching.
  • Teaching in the basic sciences was done by persons who themselves lacked adequate training. Among 27 listed as full faculty members, none had Ph.D. degrees and only two had masters degrees.
  • Library facilities were inadequate. There were no journals of the basic sciences. The only bound periodicals were Scientific American and Newsweek. Circulation records indicated that withdrawals for student use were “almost nonexistent.”
  • Lecture presentations appeared to be “programmed . . . with an emphasis on rote learning,”  There was no evidence that students were required or encouraged to do independent research, and the school had no research projects underway.
  • The student body apparently did not find the curriculum demanding. Many held full-time jobs.
  •  High school graduation was sufficient for admission. No college work was required.
  • Overall, the educational deficiencies were “too pervasive to permit an adequate educational experience.”

The Study Committee was composed of Gilda B. Shellow (Chairman), a Milwaukee attorney; William L. Blockstein, Ph.D., of Madison, professor of pharmacy at the University of Wisconsin; and Robert B. Durkin of Milwaukee, vice-president of the Milwaukee County Labor Council, AFL-CIO, and a board member of the Wisconsin State Labor Council, AFL-CIO. Their report concluded:

It is the responsibility of concerned and informed leaders in both government and science to protect less sophisticated citizens against ineffective or dangerous health practices. At the point in history when the right of all members of society to quality medical care has finally been recognized, when medicine is beginning to scrutinize itself tor optimum quality of care through both peer and lay review, it is anachronistic to permit an academically unrecognized, scientifically unproven and medically uncontrolled method of health care to infringe on that right and impair that optimum quality of care.

The report recommended that Governor’s Task Force (a) oppose any legislation that would require coverage of chiropractic in insurance programs and (b) urge Wisconsin’s government to “implement programs to educate citizens regarding the nature of chiropractic theory, its lack of scientific validity, and the potential hazards connected with its use.”

Click here to read the full report.