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Misinformation, chiropractic, and the COVID-19 pandemic

Axén, I., Bergström, C., Bronson, M., Côté, P., Nim, C.G., Goncalves, G., Hebert, J.J., Hertel, J.A., Innes, S.ORCID: 0000-0001-7783-8328, Larsen, O.K., Meyer, A-L, O’Neill, S., Perle, S.M., Weber, K.A., Young, K.J. and Leboeuf-Yde, C. (2020) Misinformation, chiropractic, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Chiropractic & Manual Therapies, 28 . Article 65.

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Abstract

Background

In March 2020, the World Health Organization elevated the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) epidemic to a pandemic and called for urgent and aggressive action worldwide. Public health experts have communicated clear and emphatic strategies to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Hygiene rules and social distancing practices have been implemented by entire populations, including ‘stay-at-home’ orders in many countries. The long-term health and economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic are not yet known.

Main text

During this time of crisis, some chiropractors made claims on social media that chiropractic treatment can prevent or impact COVID-19. The rationale for these claims is that spinal manipulation can impact the nervous system and thus improve immunity. These beliefs often stem from nineteenth-century chiropractic concepts. We are aware of no clinically relevant scientific evidence to support such statements.

We explored the internet and social media to collect examples of misinformation from Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand regarding the impact of chiropractic treatment on immune function. We discuss the potential harm resulting from these claims and explore the role of chiropractors, teaching institutions, accrediting agencies, and legislative bodies.

Conclusions

Members of the chiropractic profession share a collective responsibility to act in the best interests of patients and public health. We hope that all chiropractic stakeholders will view the COVID-19 pandemic as a call to action to eliminate the unethical and potentially dangerous claims made by chiropractors who practise outside the boundaries of scientific evidence.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Psychology, Counselling, Exercise Science and Chiropractic
Publisher: BioMed Central
Copyright: © 2020 The Authors
United Nations SDGs: Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/58841
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