J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1995 Sep; 18(7): 464-70.
Modeling a chiropractor:population ratio.
Health Care Administration, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada.
OBJECTIVE: As the cost of disability from musculoskeletal conditions increases, more attention needs to be directed toward the number of health care practitioners required to effectively treat these problems. This study describes a methodology to estimate the number of chiropractors needed to effectively serve a given population. DATA SOURCES: The data on the utilization of chiropractic services over time comes from the Saskatchewan Medical Care Insurance Branch. STUDY SELECTION: A Medline search was performed using these key words: musculoskeletal, back pain, neck pain, headaches and prevalence. Chiropractic journals were reviewed for the analysis of the kinds of conditions treated by chiropractors. DATA SYNTHESIS: Saskatchewan data shows a steady increase in the percentage of the population treated by chiropractors in response to an increase in the number of chiropractors. A regression function was defined using the number of chiropractors as the independent variable and the number of patients treated annually as the dependent variable, where all Saskatchewan patients with musculoskeletal conditions could be treated by chiropractors. CONCLUSION: Of the general population, 36.1% annually suffer from some sort of musculoskeletal problem. In Saskatchewan, this means that 366,848 people could be treated by chiropractors if enough chiropractors were available. Saskatchewan needs 391 chiropractors to effectively serve the musculoskeletal problems of the general population. This is an ideal chiropractor:population ratio of 1:2,588. Health care policymakers should design incentives to channel the appropriate patients into chiropractic offices.