Find an

Zone login

osteopathic foundation


The OF supports study aimed at using osteopathy for mental health support

Can osteopathy support mental health outcomes in pain-free individuals? The oF supported this mixed methods feasibility study by Dr Darren Edwards, a mental health researcher and senior lecturer at Swansea University.


The study aimed to investigate the potential of using osteopathy as an intervention for mental health support, moving beyond its traditional application. The research involved developing a systematic review, a feasibility protocol, collecting and analysing feasibility data, and drawing conclusions for future steps.


The systematic review analysed 21 studies and found that manual interventions in osteopathy significantly reduced depression but had no notable impact on measures like anxiety, skin conductance, and heart rate variability. Limitations included a scarcity of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) on osteopathy’s mental health effects, highlighting the need for larger-scale RCTs.

‘This data showed us some very promising results that indicate that osteopathy can indeed improve mental health outcomes even in individuals who are pain-free’


Dr Edwards said: ‘The grant from the Osteopathic Foundation was enormously helpful in allowing us to get a foot into this novel and extremely important research area of how osteopathic interventions can promote mental health outcomes.


‘The grant allowed us to employ a research assistant who supported the project and allowed us to carry out a full systematic review, develop a feasibility protocol paper (that has now been accepted for publication in the British Medical Journal), as well as gain feasibility data.  The feasibility data is important as it showed us some promising results that indicate that osteopathy can improve mental health outcomes even in pain-free individuals.


‘Given the positive outcomes from the feasibility data that the grant enabled us to get, we are now in a position to apply for further funding to complete a full randomised controlled trial (RCT) and then engage with the NHS to develop a mental health pathway that involves osteopathy as part of the primary care for individuals with mild to moderate anxiety a depression.


‘This work is extremely important for meeting the clinical needs in mental health, and we could not have completed it without the support of the Osteopathic Foundation.

About the oF

The Osteopathic Foundation is a charitable trust dedicated to advancing osteopathic practice for the benefit of the public. It does this by funding education and research, and by promoting productive relationships both within and outside of the profession.


The Foundation receives no government funding and relies on donations from members of the public and the profession.


For more information, including how to donate, click here.


Skip to toolbar