“If you don't use or understand visceral osteopathy you're not a real osteopath”: Professional identity in Australian osteopathy through the lens of a single traditional technique

Sandra Grace, Michael Fleischmann, Brett Vaughan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Background/Context: Manual therapists utilise a range of techniques in the clinical practice to manage predominantly musculoskeletal complaints. There are, however, a number of practitioners who utilise techniques that are directed towards the bodies’ visceral structures. Osteopaths are one such professional group that utilise these techniques in their practice. Like many health professions, the identity of the osteopathy profession is evolving, and the techniques osteopaths use form part of this identity. Objective: Explore free text responses to a questionnaire about the use of techniques directed towards the viscera. Methods/Design: Australian osteopaths who were part of a practice-based research network, were invited to complete a survey about their use of techniques applied to the viscera. Participants were also invited to provide free-text responses to a number of items related to the use of these techniques. Free-text responses were thematically analysed. Participants: 137 participants completed the survey. Results: Three themes were identified: being an osteopath; applying visceral techniques in practice - evidence conflicts with practice; and, inadequate education in visceral techniques. Conclusions: Participant responses resonated with the internal (own world views, beliefs) and external (external perceptions of the profession, education) influences that underpin the theory of a professions’ identity. Our work demonstrates that the Australian osteopathy profession exhibits an identity similar to other manual therapies - the profession is somewhat fragmented in its views about its practice. Additional research is required to explore whether other manual therapy techniques used by osteopaths elicit similar responses and how those external to the profession perceive it.

Original languageEnglish
JournalExplore
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Osteopathy
  • qualitative
  • qualitative research
  • visceral osteopathy

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