My complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority about the General Chiropractic Council’s Patient Information Leaflet has now gone through the ASA’s process.
The ASA has managed to deal with my complaint as an “Informally Resolved Complaint” rather than pushing it through to a formal adjudication.
This is a very interesting outcome.
What this means is that the General Chiropractic Council has withdrawn the claims as soon as they were approached and asked the ASA’s guidance in how they can make their advertising comply. There is an important point to note here: if the General Chiropractic Council believed they had the evidence to back up the efficacy of using chiropractic as a treatment for asthma, headaches, migraine and infant colic – then they simply could have produced it.
The ASA would have assessed this for them free of charge and either upheld the complaint asking them to remove the advertising, or not upheld the complaint. There is only one reason for backing off from the complaints: the GCC must have appreciated that that they simply do not currently have the evidence.
This is a significant change, and has huge implications for the circa 600 complaints currently being handled by the GCC.
By backing off and removing their claims before the ASA investigates, the GCC is acknowledging that even their loosely worded, slightly ambiguous leaflet (text below) is in breach of ASA guidelines.
There is some evidence, though more research is needed, that you may see an improvement in some types of:
• headaches, including migraine
• infant colic.
If the GCC believes this loosely worded text to be in breach of ASA guidelines, then they must also believe that every complaint made to the GCC surrounding this subject is valid.
Am I being too optimistic in anticipating a vast number of guilty verdicts against chiropractors in the forthcoming months?
It also brings up a second potentially interesting outcome. If you’ve been following this blog, you will be aware of the letter that the GCC sent to Trading Standards in defence of their members. The advice given in that letter includes the exact text within the patient information leaflet that I complained about.
Will the GCC now follow that letter up with another saying that they are now withdrawing that claim? I will be putting that question to them.
Perhaps I'm being a bit optimistic – especially considering that more than a week after agreeing to informally resolve the complaint, the patient information leaflet remains on their website in its original form.
I am now beginning work on my second ASA complaint about the same Patient Information Leaflet.
While you're in the mood for chiro woo, I highly recommend Zeno's post on his recent ASA complaint - published at the same time.