New OsteoSurvey paper published


A new UK study has recently been published which will provide the osteopathic community, patients, the public, other healthcare professionals and policymakers with a descriptive profile of osteopathic practice, the osteopathic patient population, and the care they receive from osteopaths.

This study aims to help to formulate teaching goals, plan ongoing continuing professional development activities, identify national research priorities, provide data for stakeholder negotiation and policy decision-making and ultimately optimise patient care.

The study by Austin Plunkett, Carol Fawkes and Dawn Carnes is titled ‘Osteopathic practice in the United Kingdom: A retrospective analysis of practice data’ comes a decade after the previous study.

All UK Registered osteopaths were invited to participate in the survey and each participating osteopath was asked about themselves and their practice and asked to randomly select and extract data from up to eight random new patient health records during 2018. All patient-related data were anonymised.

During 2019, all 5,341 osteopaths registered with the GOsC were invited to participate in the survey. Five hundred osteopaths provided data for analysis, representing 9.4% of registered osteopaths and they contributed information about 395 patients and 2,215 consultations.

Data from the 2009 and 2019 surveys were compared and it was found that osteopathic patient profiles in the UK remain largely unchanged over the past decade. Notable differences include increases in the number of younger children treated by osteopaths; waiting times for osteopathic appointments; and the proportion of patients presenting with persistent symptoms.

Key findings

  • Just under half of the patient appointments (48.6%) were available within three days, with only 6.9% of appointment waiting times being longer than a week
  • The most commonly-experienced waiting time was 2–3 days (33.0%)
  • Over half of patients had not seen an osteopath before (57.7%)
  • The patient’s main presenting complaints were musculoskeletal pain or dysfunction (81%)
  • 9% of patients experienced persistent symptoms (13 weeks or longer)
  • Five areas of the body accounted for 52.2% of predominant symptoms: lumbar spine (16.3%), neck (12.4%), shoulder (10.7%), thoracic spine (6.7%) and sacroiliac/pelvis/groin area (6.2%).

Austin Plunkett, one of the co-authors of the study said:

‘Many thanks to all the osteopaths who participated in the survey. Studies like this help demonstrate to patients and other healthcare professionals what osteopaths do and how we work, as well as demonstrate the maturity of the profession in its ability to reflect on its own practices.’

To read the full study, please click here.