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.

Advertisers wanting to refer to themselves as “Dr”, “Doctor” or similar, should take care not to imply that they hold a general medical qualification if they do not. The need for clarity is greatest when marketers are making health-related claims and the ASA has taken a tough line on marketers making unqualified reference to the ‘Dr’ title in the context of health.

The ASA has upheld complaints against ads for chiropractors that have misleadingly implied that the advertiser is a medical practitioner. Advertisers should note that references to “DC” or “doctor of chiropractic” are unlikely to dispel that misleading impression, when used in conjunction with unqualified references to the prefix ‘Dr’ (BritChiro Clinics Ltd, 17 September 2008). In 2010, the ASA ruled that a clinic had misleadingly implied that their members of staff were medically qualified. It said that claims such as “The chiropractic doctors at the Pain Resource Centre...” and “doctors and chiropractors” suggested that staff held general medical qualifications (Phillip Bennetts, 6 October 2010).

CAP understands that the General Chiropractic Council (GCC) permits its members to use the "Dr" title provided the copy makes clear it is a courtesy title only and does not otherwise imply that they hold a general medical qualification (unless they hold a dual registration with General Medical Council (GMC)). The ASA has yet to rule on this matter, however CAP considers that if a title is clearly and prominently qualified with additional text which makes clear it is a courtesy title and that the practitioner does not hold a general medical qualification, references to titles of “Dr” or "Doctor of Chiropractic" may be acceptable.

Updated 23 May 2016

Zeetech Services Ltd, 19 March 2014

BodyWell Group, 12 February 2014 

The Chiswick Chiropractic Clinic, 18 December 2013

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