Alternative health care in the 1990's: the influence of legal constraints on the locational behavior of acupuncturists, chiropractors, and homeopaths

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Virginia Tech


This study showed that state laws and policies constrain the locational preferences of alternative health care providers to varying degrees, depending on the particular profession and level of legal status. Three separate surveys were conducted, focusing on acupuncturists, chiropractors and homeopaths in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and the District of Columbia. The acupuncture findings revealed intraprofessional divisions that lead to a strong influence of legal constraints on the locational behavior of non-MD acupuncturists. Results from the chiropractic survey reflected an established profession with a less pronounced, but moderate, influence of state laws and policies on location and mobility. The homeopathy findings, while based on a much smaller sample, did not reveal a strong relationship between legal constraints and spatial characteristics, except in the extreme case of North Carolina's recent prohibition. This study also postulated a model to explain the progression of alternative health care professions toward legitimation. The variables of public acceptance and legal constraints on location were plotted on the model to identify particular levels of progression. The importance of this research is highlighted by impending health care reforms, the need for access to professional health services, skyrocketing biomedical costs, and the documented utilization of alternative health care in this country.



alternative health care