Profile of osteopathic practice in Spain: results from a standardized data collection study

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Gerard Alvarez Bustins, Pedro-Victor López Plaza and Sonia Roura Carvajal

Journal: BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine

There is limited research regarding patients’ profiles and consumer attitudes and habits of osteopathy in Spain. The purpose of this study was to profile patients who regularly receive osteopathic care in Spain using an internationally developed standardized data collection tool.

During the period between April 2014 and December 2015, a UK-developed standardized data collection tool was distributed to Spanish osteopaths who voluntarily agreed to participate in this cross-sectional study.

Thirty-six osteopaths participated in this study and returned a total of 314 completed datasets. Of 314 patients, 61% were women and 39% were men, with a mean age of 40 years (SD 17.02 years, range 0 to 83 years). Forty-four percent were full-time salaried workers, and in 78% of cases, receiving osteopathic treatment was the patient’s own choice. Chronic spinal pain presentations were the most frequent reasons for consultation. Seventy-five percent of patients presented with a coexisting condition, mainly gastrointestinal disorders and headaches. The main treatment approach consisted of mobilization techniques, followed by soft tissue, cranial and high velocity thrust techniques. Improvement or resolution of the complaint was experienced by 93% of patients after a small number of sessions. Adverse events were minor and occurred in 7% of all cases.

This is the first study carried out in Spain analyzing the profile of patients who receive osteopathic care. The typical patient who receives osteopathic care in Spain is middle-aged, presents mainly with chronic spinal pain, and voluntarily seeks osteopathic treatment. Osteopathic treatment produces a significant improvement in the majority of cases with a low rate of minor adverse events reported.