Prevalence and profile of Australian osteopaths treating older people

Amie Steel*, Brett Vaughan, Paul Orrock, Wenbo Peng, Michael Fleischmann, Sandra Grace, Roger M. Engel, David Sibbritt, Jon Adams

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    5 Citations (Scopus)


    Objectives: To explore the characteristics of the Australian osteopathy workforce who participate in the management of older patients with musculoskeletal complaints. Design: Secondary analysis of a cross-sectional survey of osteopaths. Setting: The Osteopathy Research and Innovation Network (ORION), an Australian practice-based research network. Main outcome measures: The demographic, practice and treatment characteristics of osteopaths who identify as ‘always'or ‘often’ treating patients aged 65 years or over. Results: Over half (58%) of total participants (n = 992) indicated often treating older people and this was associated with referral patterns with other health professionals and a non-urban practice location. Osteopaths providing care to older people were more likely to discuss diet/nutrition and medications, and provide pain counselling. Osteopaths who treated older adults were more likely to treat shoulder musculoskeletal disorders, degenerative spine disorders, chronic or persistent pain, and tendinopathies. Conclusions: A substantial proportion of Australian osteopaths treat older adults frequently. The potential value and impact of osteopathy in managing the health needs of an ageing population warrants close examination from both researchers and policy makers.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)125-130
    Number of pages6
    JournalComplementary Therapies in Medicine
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


    • osteopathy
    • chronic pain
    • health workforce
    • gerontology
    • aged care


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