Since its foundation in 1895 in the United States of America, the chiropractic profession has grown to be the third most utilized primary health care profession in the Western world. Practically from the outset it has been in conflict with what has come to be known as Political Medicine. While Political Medicine is comprised of many organizations, the largest and most powerful in the United States of America is the American Medical Association. In the early 1960s the American Medical Association decided to contain and eliminate chiropractic as a profession in the United States. To this end, in 1963 the American Medical Association formed the Committee on Quackery which worked aggressively both overtly and covertly - to eliminate chiropractic. One of the principal means used by the American Medical Association to achieve its goal was to deem it unethical for medical physicians to professionally associate with chiropractors. The American Medical Association's opposition to the chiropractic profession was exposed during a 15 year antitrust trial in which it and twelve other defendants were found guilty of an illegal boycott and conspiracy to eliminate the chiropractic profession as a competitor in the health care marketplace. One of the principal means used by the AMA to achieve its goal was to make it unethical for medical physicians to professionally associate with chiropractors. Because of the lingering effects of the illegal boycott of chiropractic, the American Medical Association, its officers, agents and employees, were permanently enjoined from restricting, regulating or impeding, the freedom of any Association member or any institution or hospital to make an individual decision as to whether or not they shall professionally associate with chiropractors, chiropractic students, or chiropractic institutions.
Within the Australian context the Australian Medical Association had similar ethical prohibitions on dealings with chiropractors however the question of the origins of the Australian Medical Association's policy on chiropractic and its effects had not been explored.
This is an historical/comparative study conducted within an interpretive framework using documentary sources which are analysed to explore, explain and compare the influence of political medicine on the development of the Australian chiropractic profession and the American chiropractic profession.
Specifically, using trial transcripts, exhibits and other documents relating to the American antitrust trial, this thesis examines in detail the activities of political medicine in the United States. Then, using Australian documents gathered by Freedom of Information searches as well as a wide variety of other sources, the thesis examines the degree to which the activities of political medicine in Australia constitute a conscious, interdependent parallelism with the activities of political medicine in the USA. That is, are there similarities between the activities of the Australian Medical Association and the American Medical Association with regard to their dealings with the chiropractic profession and do the activities of the Australian Medical Association parallel those of the American Medical Association by design?
The study found that there were significant parallels between the actions of the American Medical Association in its dealings with the chiropractic profession and the Australian Medical Association in its dealings with the chiropractic profession. These findings were confirmed by Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and its predecessor, the Trade Practices Commission which is an independent statutory authority responsible for ensuring compliance with, inter alia, competitive conduct rules of Part IV of the Trade Practices Act which fundamentally are the prohibitions on restrictive trading practices.
The thesis then offers an overview of the contemporary Australian chiropractic profession and the attitude adopted by Australian political medicine toward the Australian chiropractic profession. A discussion of the Australian chiropractic profession is given with reference to the influence political medicine has had on the development of the chiropractic culture. Lastly, suggestions are made regarding the developmental options open to the profession in the new millennium.