Check your advertising: Chiropractic examples

This information outlines examples of advertising claims that don’t meet the legal requirements and how to make them compliant. Ahpra and the Chiropractic Board of Australia are sharing these examples to help you check your own advertising to ensure you comply with your obligations under the National Law.

Why the advertising is non-compliant and how the specific examples could be corrected is based on our assessment of advertising complaints we have received for the chiropractic profession. To do this we apply the National Law and any further guidance that National Boards and Ahpra publish, including the Guidelines for advertising a regulated health service and resources on our websites.

The examples below are specific to chiropractors and are some of the most common mistakes we see. We have also published common examples which highlight advertising from various regulated health professions but are still important to help you make your advertising compliant.

Important information

Check if your advertising complies with legal requirements

Is your advertising about non-musculoskeletal conditions? Be particularly careful

The limited research evidence across manual therapies is not supportive of practitioners making advertising claims that they can effectively treat non-musculoskeletal conditions. However, sometimes chiropractic care may benefit aspects of some non-musculoskeletal conditions and syndromes. For example, manual therapy may help with musculoskeletal aspects of a non-musculoskeletal condition such as muscular tension often associated with asthma, and in these circumstances chiropractic care could be helpful in managing the condition alongside care from other practitioners.

If advertising refers to a specific non-musculoskeletal condition, it should be clear that the practitioner is treating the aspects of the condition amenable to manual therapy and the role of the treatment should not be overstated.

Key

These examples highlight non-compliant advertising by chiropractors and/or chiropractic related websites, Facebook pages, print advertisements and/or advertising by chiropractors or chiropractic clinics on third party websites.

Text in green means this is okay and is unlikely to mislead consumers.
Text in orange means it can depend. If you have provided the appropriate context and clarification in your advertising, it is unlikely to be misleading to consumers.
Text in red means this advertising is in breach of the legal requirements, and you should remove it from your advertising.

Examples of non-compliant advertising and how to correct it

Advertising content Why it is non-compliant Changes that would help this advertising to comply

Chiropractic treatment can help with:

This advertising is considered misleading and deceptive.

Parts of this advertising are unqualified and/or are not supported by acceptable evidence and therefore may mislead consumers.

Chiropractic may be able to help manage symptoms often associated with asthma (e.g. muscular tension) rather than treating the condition itself. If this is made clear in your advertising that this is the case then you will be unlikely to mislead consumers.

Ear infections and behaviour disorders are non-musculoskeletal conditions and have no clear musculoskeletal symptoms. There is no acceptable evidence to justify a reference to these conditions in advertising by a chiropractor.

This statement could be corrected to read:

  • Back pain 
  • Neck pain
  • Asthma

Chiropractic treatment can help with:

  • Back pain 
  • Neck pain 
  • Managing symptoms such as muscular tension often associated with asthma
  • Ear infections
  • Behaviour disorders

Pay particular attention to:

  • the use of a list of health conditions in advertising as this can often be misleading, and
  • claims by chiropractors about treating non-musculoskeletal conditions are more likely to be misleading. It is often not appropriate to include them in your advertising.

The Board is particularly concerned about treatment claims that suggest there is a relationship between manual therapy (e.g. manipulation) for spinal problems and treating various organic diseases and infections, such as ear infections.

Advertising content Why it is non-compliant Changes that would help this advertising to comply

Are you pregnant? Chiropractic treatment can help pregnant women with:

This advertising is considered misleading and deceptive.

Parts of this advertising are not supported by acceptable evidence and therefore may mislead consumers.

In this advertising there are no clear links between chiropractic treatment and the causes of the non-musculoskeletal conditions listed (in red).

There is no acceptable evidence that chiropractic can effectively treat the conditions listed in red, therefore it’s not appropriate to make claims about them in advertising.

This statement could be corrected to read:

  • Back pain 
  • Other pregnancy related musculoskeletal pains
  • Morning sickness
  • Optimal foetal positioning, including correcting Breech position, and
  • Shorter labour times.

Are you pregnant? Chiropractic treatment can help pregnant women with:

  • Back pain 
  • Other pregnancy related musculoskeletal pains
 

Pay particular attention to:

  • the use of a list of health conditions in advertising as this can often be misleading, and
  • claims by chiropractors about treating non-musculoskeletal conditions are more likely to be misleading. It is often not appropriate to include them in your advertising.

The Board is particularly concerned about chiropractors representing that they provide treatment to the unborn child. Chiropractors are not trained to and should not deliver any treatment to the unborn child.

Advertising content Why it is non-compliant Changes that would help this advertising to comply

Our practice includes Dr McKenzie (chiropractor),

This advertising is considered misleading and deceptive as it includes claims about specialising.

When a practitioner does not hold specialist registration, any advertising using words or titles related to specialty (e.g. ‘specialist’, ‘specialises in’ or ‘specialised’) is likely to mislead the public to believe the practitioner holds a type of specialist registration approved under the National Law.

There are no recognised specialist categories in the chiropractic profession. Chiropractors cannot use terms (e.g. ‘specialist’ or ‘specialises’) in their advertising. Even if you have the appropriate training and experience, you cannot give the impression or advertise that you specialise in chiropractic or are a specialist chiropractor.

This advertising would need to be corrected by removing the reference to specialising in paediatrics.

Instead, Dr McKenzie could say:

who specialises in paediatric chiropractic care.

 

I have a particular interest in musculoskeletal issues in children.

Pay particular attention to:

  • specialist registration applies to only a small number of health professions, and
  • chiropractors can only apply for general registration.
Advertising content Why it is non-compliant Changes that would help this advertising to comply

Bailey, 47, is one of our many patients who experienced great results with chiropractic treatment, who says: ‘As a patient who has received this treatment, I confirm that it really does work and my chronic back pain is much improved after only five sessions’.

This advertising includes a testimonial.

Testimonials or purported testimonials are prohibited under the National Law when advertising regulated health services.

Feedback or reviews from patients that include a clinical aspect of a regulated health service cannot be used in advertising.

The testimonial in red includes a clinical aspect which is prohibited in advertising. It needs to be removed.

The statement in green can be used because it doesn’t include a clinical aspect and therefore is not considered a testimonial.

A clinical aspect exists if one of the following is expressed:

  • Symptom – the specific symptom or the reason for seeking treatment
  • Diagnosis or treatment - the specific diagnosis or treatment provided by the practitioner.
  • Outcome – the specific outcome or the skills or experience of the practitioner either directly or via comparison.

If you’re unsure if a review in your advertising breaches the prohibition on testimonials, you should seek independent advice or remove it from your advertising.


Charlie, 35, says: ‘The practice is in a great spot so parking isn’t a problem. The staff are lovely and I have been going there for many years'.

Advertising content Why it is non-compliant Changes that would help this advertising to comply

Did you know that checking of newborns, toddler and children’s spines by a chiropractor for subluxations are essential to help deal with trauma in gestation/birth/childhood and prevent illness later in life? Book a visit for your child now.

This advertising is considered misleading and deceptive and encourages the unnecessary use of health services.

This statement claims that a check-up with a chiropractor can prevent illness later in life. This claim is not supported by acceptable evidence and therefore may mislead consumers.

This statement also encourages patients to seek treatment when it is not clinically indicated (i.e. in the absence of any particular symptoms). and may encourage the unnecessary use of regulated health services.

This claim goes further than just recommending a check-up, and links a check-up with a chiropractor to a therapeutic benefit for the consumer for which there is no acceptable evidence. In this case indicating the actual prevention of disease.

This statement needs to be removed.

Pay particular attention to:

  • how language is used in your advertising as consumers could be mislead, and
  • words such as ‘essential’ or ‘ensure’ can be read differently (and sometimes literally) by consumers.

The Board is particularly concerned about claims in advertising that there is a relationship between manual therapy (e.g. manipulation) for spinal problems and achieving general wellness or treating various organic diseases and infections.

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

Disclaimer: The information used in these examples is for guidance only. If, after reviewing the examples listed, you are still unsure if your advertising complies with the National Law we recommend you seek advice from your professional association, insurer and/or independent legal adviser.

 
 
 
Page reviewed 23/08/2021