Attitudes, skills and use of evidence-based practice among UK osteopaths: a national cross-sectional survey

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Tobias Sundberg, Matthew J. Leach, Oliver P. Thomson, Philip Austin, Gary FryerEmail authorView ORCID ID profile and Jon Adams

Journal: BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders201819:439


Evidence-based practice (EBP) is a clinical decision-making framework that supports quality improvement in healthcare. While osteopaths are key providers of musculoskeletal healthcare, the extent to which osteopaths engage in EBP is unclear. Thus, the aim of this cross-sectional study was to investigate UK osteopaths’ attitudes, skills and use of EBP, and perceived barriers and facilitators of EBP uptake.


UK-registered osteopaths were invited to complete the Evidence-Based Practice Attitude and Utilisation Survey (EBASE) online.


Of the 5200 registered osteopaths in the UK, 9.9% (517/5200) responded to the invitation, and 7.2% (375/5200) completed the EBASE (< 20% incomplete answers). The demographic characteristics of the survey sample were largely similar to those of the UK osteopathy workforce. The osteopaths reported overall positive attitudes towards EBP, with most agreeing that EBP improves the quality of patient care (69.3%) and is necessary for osteopathy practice (76.5%). The majority reported moderate-level skills in EBP, and most (80.8%) were interested in improving these skills. Participating osteopaths typically engaged in EBP activities 1–5 times over the last month. Barriers to EBP uptake included a lack of time and clinical evidence in osteopathy. Main facilitators of EBP included having access to online databases, internet at work, full-text articles, and EBP education materials.


UK osteopaths were generally supportive of evidence-based practice, had moderate-level skills in EBP and engaged in EBP activities infrequently. The development of effective interventions that improve osteopaths’ skills and the incorporation of EBP into clinical practice should be the focus of future research.