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Australian Government supports pseudoscience.

March 8, 2013

According to a story in today’s Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian Medical Association has called for an end to government funding of chiropractors. As the doctors point out, taxpayers funds are being used to encourage people to use treatments which, according to the scientific evidence, are ineffective. The story explains that Medicare claims for chiropractic treatment of children are increasing rapidly. It tells of a mother who takes her children to a chiropractor for treatment of food allergies and behaviour problems.

The scientific evidence on whether spinal manipulation has any use in treatment of neck and back pain is not conclusive (here, here, here, here), and there are risks (here, here). And when it comes to other conditions, there is no evidence that it has any effect at all. This includes non-spinal pain (here), asthma (here, here), infant colic (here), insomnia (here) or ADHD (here). In general, the indications are that chiropractors should not treat children (here, here).

It’s time we ensured that our health funds are used only on treatments that are backed up by evidence.

Update: The Australian Government has established a review of the private health insurance rebate on “natural” therapies. The advisory committee includes several representatives of the “natural” therapies community. More from a member of the committee at The Conversation (here).

From → Science

  1. Pior permalink

    I don’t think it helps that Australian Universities have “Chiropratic Science” degree’s available.

    Combining the two words does not seem right, if there is science behind this course as the blurb says on the website should it not just be a form of Physiotherapy?

    • Chiropractors appear to be trying to clean up their profession.See this SMH story about their stance on vaccination. I think I would trust universities like Murdoch to maintain a fairly strict evidence-based curriculum, but I agree with you, Pior – if you remove everything that’s not evidence-based from chiropractic, what would remain that isn’t already offered by conventional treatments?
      Update: Chiropractors in the US don’t seem to be as keen on legitimizing their status. See this post from Orac: Chiropractic and antivax: Two quacky tastes that taste quacky together.

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