Note: This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising. It does not constitute legal advice. It does not bind CAP, CAP advisory panels or the Advertising Standards Authority.
The “Chiropractor” title is protected by law and chiropractors are regulated by statute. The General Chiropractic Council (GCC) is the UK-wide statutory body established by Parliament to regulate the chiropractic profession. CAP understands that Chiropractors are permitted by the GCC to use the courtesy title “Doctor of Chiropractic”, which is sometimes abbreviated to “DC” or “DoC”.
CAP and the ASA consider that Chiropractors who wish to use the courtesy title in their advertising (either in part, or in full), should take care not to imply that they hold a general medical qualification if they do not.
In 2018, the ASA ruled against a website for a Chiropractic clinic where some of the Chiropractors were referred to using the title “Dr [name] DC” with the full profile (available upon click-through) repeating that title and also including the subheading “Doctor of Chiropractic”. Another Chiropractor on the website was, in the first instance, referred to by the title “Dr [name’]”, with “Doctor of Chiropractic” only being referenced on their full profile. The ASA ruled that the titles “Dr” and “Doctor” should not be used on the clinic website without immediate qualification with the courtesy title “Doctor of Chiropractic” or its approved abbreviations. It additionally considered that using DC alone as part of a title e.g. “Dr [name] DC” was not clear to consumers because they were unlikely to be aware that it was an abbreviation of “Doctor of Chiropractic” and that the title could therefore be interpreted as a reference to a general medical qualification. It subsequently ruled that if using “DC” alone as part of the title, the ad would need to make clear it related to the full courtesy title “Doctor of Chiropractic”. Finally, the ASA also ruled that the use of the courtesy title “Doctor of Chiropractic” or its qualified abbreviations were likely to be misleading unless they were clearly and prominently qualified with a statement that the title was a courtesy title and that the practitioner did not hold a general medical qualification. (Chiropractic First Group Ltd, 9 May 2018).
In light of the above ruling, CAP recommends that Chiropractors who wish to use the title ”Dr” or “Doctor” immediately qualify it (within the same statement) with the full courtesy title “Doctor of Chiropractic” or its abbreviations “DC” or “DoC”. If using the abbreviated title, especially “DC”, we would recommend making clear that this relates to the full title of “Doctor of Chiropractic”.
CAP also recommends that Chiropractors clearly and prominently qualify the use of the courtesy title “Doctor of Chiropractic” (or its qualified abbreviations) with a statement that it is a courtesy title and that a general medical qualification is not held..
If practitioners also hold a general medical qualification, a “Dr” title is likely to be acceptable but care would still need to be taken to prevent the impression that the “Dr of Chiropractic” title (or its abbreviations) was equivalent to a general medical qualification.