Pain knowledge, attitudes and beliefs of Australian osteopaths drawn from a nationally representative sample of the profession

Kylie Fitzgerald, Brett Vaughan, Michael Fleischmann, Philip Austin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Pain has been identified as a global health issue with substantial effects on individuals and society. Health professionals managing pain complaints must have appropriate knowledge of pain neurophysiology, and attitudes and beliefs towards pain management that align with current practice guidelines. Objectives: Evaluate Australian osteopaths' current level of knowledge of pain neurophysiology and their beliefs and attitudes towards pain, and explore associations with demographic variables. Method: Australian osteopaths drawn from a nationally representative practice-based research network received the questionnaire. The questionnaire included demographic information, Neurophysiology of Pain Questionnaire (NPQ), Pain Attitudes and Beliefs Scale for Physiotherapists (PABS-PT) and the Attitudes to Back Pain Scale in Musculoskeletal Practitioners (ABS-mp). Results: Complete responses were received from 211 osteopaths (21.3% response rate). The mean total NPQ score was equivalent to 72.2% correct responses. The PABS-PT Biomedical scale mean score was 38.8 ( ±9.1, α = 0.81) and the Biopsychosocial scale was 22.3 ( ±3.3, α = 0.38). ABS-mp mean factor scores suggest osteopaths support psychological approaches (22.1, ±3.3, α = 0.71) but endorsed more treatment sessions for those with back pain (15.9, ±4.7, α = 0.71). Trivial correlations between measures and most demographic variables were observed. Osteopaths who undertook further studies in pain had higher mean NPQ scores, with moderate negative correlations with a lower PABS-PT Biomedical subscale score (ρ = −0.45, p < 0.01). Conclusions: Australian osteopaths demonstrate a range of pain neurophysiology knowledge, and beliefs and attitudes towards pain. The findings support the positive impact of professional development for improving pain knowledge in this population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-50
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Attitudes
  • Back pain
  • Education
  • Osteopathic medicine


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