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Overview of Manual Therapy Use in Canada

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Natcher Conference Center
National Institutes of Health
June 9–10, 2005

Maria Verhoef, Ph.D., Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Recent surveys conducted by Statistics Canada show that the most commonly used manual therapies in Canada are Chiropractic and Massage Therapy. Much less common are Feldenkrais, Alexander therapy, Rolfing and Reflexology. No data are available about osteopathic medicine, which is not very common in Canada. This presentation will, therefore, focus mostly on Chiropractic and Massage Therapy. Manual therapy use varies by gender, age, income, education, province and health status.

While Chiropractic is regulated in all Canadian provinces, Massage Therapy is only regulated in three provinces. Education requirements differ as well. After a minimum of three years of university, a chiropractic student must complete another four years of professional education. The Canadian Massage Therapists Alliance (CMTA) has set a gold standard for massage therapy education of 2200 practice hours. While some provincial insurance plans cover Chiropractic, Massage Therapy is not covered in any provincial plan. However, both may be covered by third party payers.

Demographic characteristics of practitioners will be presented as well as the most common reasons for Chiropractic and Massage Therapy use. Both patients using Chiropractic as well as Massage Therapy tend to be very satisfied with this type of care.

Physician surveys conducted in Canada indicate that while physicians know relatively little about Chiropractic and Massage Therapy, they tend to find them useful and to refer patients to these modalities. Several initiatives are underway to integrate Chiropractic and Massage Therapy with medicine. In addition, chiropractors as well as massage therapists, play a role in several initiatives, such as: 1) a Canadian initiative to develop CAM curriculum for Undergraduate Medical Education, and 2) an initiative to develop and promote interdisciplinary CAM research.

In conclusion, manual therapies are not only considered to be of clinical important by the Canadian population, these modalities are also included in strategic initiatives to develop interdisciplinary practice, research and education.

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This page last modified January 04, 2012