AHPRA Guidelines for Chiropractors – What’s allowed and what’s not.
With the current publicity surrounding the chiropractic community it is important that Chiropractors ensure their online and offline marketing strategies are compliant with the National Law; in particular ‘Advertising and the National Law Section 133’ which prohibits a person from advertising regulated health services in a way that:
(a) is/or is likely to be false, misleading or deceptive
False, misleading or deceptive advertising
You cannot advertise in a way that is false, misleading or likely to be misleading or deceptive. whether directly, by implication, or by use of emphasis, comparison, contrast or omission.
In 2015 the Chiropractic Board of Australia deemed the word ‘safe’ as unacceptable. If you do use the word safe, you must also acknowledge that all forms of chiropractic treatment have the potential for adverse reactions.
For example, it is acceptable to state ‘chiropractic treatment is generally considered safe but may also cause adverse reactions in some people’ but YOU CANNOT claim: ‘Chiropractic uses safe and gentle, scientific method to relieve your pain.’
Along with the word safe, you cannot claim to ‘heal’ or ‘cure’ and if you do not hold a ‘specialist’ title, you cannot use that word.
(b) offers a gift, discount or other inducement to attract a person to use the service or the business, unless the advertisement also states the terms and conditions of the offer
Offers a gift, discount or other inducement
You cannot advertise a regulated health service, or a business that provides a regulated health service, in a way that offers a gift, discount or other inducement to attract a person to use the service or the business, unless the advertisement also states the terms and conditions of the offer.
Any advertisement that offers gifts, prizes or free items must state the terms and conditions of the offer. The terms and conditions should be in plain English, easily understandable, accurate and not in themselves misleading about the conditions and limitations of the offered service.
For example, it is acceptable to offer:
A FREE initial chiropractic consultation which includes:*
Thorough History Assessment
Comprehensive spine and posture examination
At the end of the consultation, we will discuss our findings with you through a verbal report and provide further recommendations.
*Please note, no treatment or x-ray examinations are included in this offer
YOU CANNOT: Offer something for ‘free’ then try to recoup the costs through another price rise elsewhere.
(c) uses testimonials or purported testimonials about the service or business
You are prohibited to use testimonials or purported testimonials about the service or business. Testimonials are prohibited because they have the potential to distort consumers’ judgment in their choice of health service providers. Testimonials can also create misinterpretation of the skills and expertise of the health service provider.
If testimonials are posted on a website or social media page which you control then you are responsible for ensuring that the content complies with the National Law.
(d) creates an unreasonable expectation of beneficial treatment
Creation of unrealistic expectation of beneficial treatment
Advertising services must not mislead, either directly, or by implication, or by use of emphasis, comparison, contrast or omission. You are prohibited to create an unreasonable expectation of beneficial treatment.
Comparing different regulated health professions or practitioners in a way that could mislead or deceive is illegal.
YOU CANNOT state: ‘Chiropractic care is an effective treatment for back pain, neck pain and headaches and can also eliminate the need for drugs or surgery.’
Scientific and Beneficial Treatment Statement(s)
The Scientific and Beneficial Treatment Statement(s) may be false, misleading or deceptive if it does not clearly identify any evidence; and is not from a reputable and verifiable source. You must ensure that your advertising only contains claims about the therapeutic benefits of chiropractic services which are supported by high level scientific evidence.
YOU CANNOT claim:
- ‘A chiropractic adjustment is a great way to release stress and anxiety from your body’
- ‘Headaches can be effectively managed with chiropractic care.’
- ‘Chiropractors understand that a healthy spine enables a child to grow straight and strong.’
- ‘Chiropractic care improves pelvic floor muscle control.’
(e) directly or indirectly encourages the indiscriminate or unnecessary use of regulated health services.
Encouraging indiscriminate or unnecessary use of health services
You are prohibited by the National Law from advertising a regulated health service, or a business that provides such a service, in a way that directly or indirectly encourages the indiscriminate or unnecessary use of that service.
Do not make statements which may lead people to purchase or undergo chiropractic treatment that they do not need.
YOU CANNOT publish: ‘Regular preventative visits are great for keeping your body functioning well.”
Advertising a regulated health service in any of the way that doesn’t comply to the National Law is considered a criminal offence which may result in prosecution in the Local Court. A penalty of up to $5,000 per offence may be imposed. In addition, AHPRA may refer this matter to the Chiropractic Board of Australia for consideration which may result in regulatory action being taken.
If you are audited by AHPRA, you will receive a letter outlining your offence, you will then be asked to respond in writing, stating that you have amended or deleted the advertising to address the concerns. If you do not believe that you have contravened the National Law, you can explain your position in writing and provide any material that supports your position.
If anyone has concerns regarding their current content please feel free to contact us, we’d be happy to help. For all our existing support cycle clients we have reviewed your websites and where necessary, have already contacted you regarding changes.
For further information please read:
Chiropractic Board of Australia Codes and Guidelines
Guidelines for advertising regulated health services
If chiropractic advertising doesn’t meet legal obligations, we will take action
Code of conduct for chiropractors