Practice Characteristics Between Swiss Male and Female Chiropractors
Written by Editor   
Tuesday, August 22, 2017 09:58 AM

Because of the start of a new chiropractic program in the faculty of medicine at the University of Zürich in 2008, a job analysis survey of chiropractic practice in Switzerland was performed in 2009 to identify specific characteristics of Swiss chiropractic practice to ensure a comprehensive education of future chiropractors in Switzerland. Additionally, the authors wanted to compare and contrast differences between chiropractic practice in Switzerland and other countries. 

Now, as the first 3 cohorts of students have finished their studies at the University of Zürich, and with the majority of students currently studying chiropractic medicine at the University of Zürich being women, overall, 75% of the chiropractic medicine students are women and 25% men. This is the exact opposite proportion of the percent sex distribution identified for practicing chiropractors in Switzerland in the 2009 job analysis. Although the size of the chiropractor student cohorts at the University of Zürich are small (20 students per year maximum intake) and with the Swiss government increasing restrictions on foreign graduates practicing in the country, over time the proportion of women chiropractors in Switzerland will significantly increase as the older practitioners retire. This change makes it important to analyze the specific differences between the 2 sexes in terms of the way they practice.

The increasing proportion of female students is a trend identified in the whole medical faculty of University of Zürich and other Swiss and non-Swiss universities.  Female candidates at the bachelor level reached 58% in 2013 compared with 57% in 2012. At the master’s level the percentage rose from 53% in 2012 to 54% in 2013. Of the 2013 graduated students, 62% were women. It is also interesting to note the increasing female proportion of “habilitations” (i.e., research leading to assistant professorship; 16% in 2012, 30% in 2013), university lecturers (25% in 2012, 27% in 2013) and professors (10% in 2012, 12% in 2013). 

Because there is an obvious majority of female students currently studying chiropractic medicine at the University of Zürich, similar to their medical counterparts, it is important to know what effect, if any, this will have for patients and their chiropractic care in the future. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to identify differences in the practice characteristics and treatment techniques of female and male chiropractors and to discuss what impact these differences might have for the profession in the coming years.

A significant difference in number of years in practice between female and male chiropractors was found.  Men were in practice for 5 to 25 years and most women for 2 to 15 years.  There was also a significant difference in the number of hours worked per week between the sexes.  Men worked between 31 and 50 hours per week and women worked between 21 and 40 hours per week.  Also, a significant difference between male and female chiropractors was identified in the number of patients seen per week.  Male chiropractors treated between 100 and 199 patients per week and female chiropractors treated between 50 and 149 patients per week.

There was also a significant sex difference in the number of new patients seen per week. Men saw between 7 and 12 new patients per week. Women saw between 4 and 9 new patients per week. Another significant difference between the sexes was found for the quantity of time spent with the patient in a follow-up visit. Men spent between 6 and 15 minutes per patient for a follow-up visit and women spent between 11 and 30 minutes.

No significant differences between male and female chiropractors were noted in terms of the sex of the patients treated. They both treat approximately 26% to 50% male patients and 51% to 75% female patients.

There was also no significant difference between the sexes in the proportion of pediatric patients treated, neither in children younger than age 5 nor in children older than age 5.

Regarding the percentage of acute and chronic patients treated, no significant differences were based on the practitioner’s sex.

No significant differences between the sexes were identified for any of the investigated treatment techniques including the proportion of patients receiving diversified adjustments, active muscle release, trigger point therapy, activator technique, mobilization, applied kinesiology, physical therapy modalities, massage, dry needling, nutritional counseling, rehabilitation therapies, therapeutic exercises, and pain medication subscriptions.

Searching for disparity in the frequency of x-ray examination of patients again identified no significant sex differences.

The study concluded that because of the dramatic shift in the sex distribution of male and female chiropractors in Switzerland that is likely to occur as a result of the strong female predominance in the student population, the significant differences found in their workload and hours worked will likely lead to a chiropractic shortage in the future. Means must be found to encourage more men to apply for chiropractic studies.