The governing body for chiropractors in Manitoba has started to crack down on the advertising claims made by its members on their websites.
The move follows an investigation by the CBC I-Team last year that found examples of chiropractors making questionable health claims on their websites and social media — including suggestions that chiropractic treatments could be used to treat cancer and autism.
After conducting its own review, the Manitoba Chiropractors Association developed a quarterly process for reviewing member websites to ensure their content meets standards, said executive director Lisa Goss.
"We undertook an in-depth review of the websites containing out-of-scope content after which members were contacted and directed to remove all out-of-scope information," Goss said in an email to CBC.
She said after the introduction of the quarterly reviews, five chiropractors were asked to change content on their websites.
"At that time, all members contacted, complied," said Goss. "Going forward, if a member fails to comply, the issue will then move into the complaints process."
Goss said the review was among her first tasks after starting her new job as MCA executive director in October. She said the process began with a keyword search of all chiropractors' websites.
When CBC analyzed the websites and Facebook pages of every registered chiropractor in the province last year, the research identified questionable online content linked to more than 30 chiropractic offices.
There were about 275 chiropractors working out of 215 offices in Manitoba.
CBC found chiropractors making claims such as offers of treatment for autism, Alzheimer's disease, and cancer. There were also statements discouraging people from getting vaccines or diagnostic tests such as CT scans, colonoscopies and mammograms.
Goss said the MCA issued three notices to the profession between March and May last year, following the CBC investigation.
The organization published a statement last May making it clear that vaccination is not within the scope of chiropractic practice.
"The MCA directs its members to not provide advice on the topic of vaccination and immunization," the statement said.
"Appropriate sources for patient consultation regarding vaccination and immunization are public health professionals for whom vaccination and immunization is within their scope of practice."
The MCA also developed a December 2017 directive for chiropractors to guide their communications on topics outside their scope of practice. It covers all forms of communication, including verbal, print, and online.
"As a regulatory body, protecting the public is our number one responsibility," Goss said by email. "In fact, our job when presented with a complaint is to investigate and take corrective action which is exactly what we did in this instance and will continue to do going forward."
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Chiropractic 2017 Practice Directive
Chiropractic 2017 Practice Directive (PDF KB)
Chiropractic 2017 Practice Directive (Text KB)
Vaccination Position Statement Manitoba Chiropractors Association
Vaccination Position Statement Manitoba Chiropractors Association (PDF KB)
Vaccination Position Statement Manitoba Chiropractors Association (Text KB)