The use of visceral techniques in Australian osteopathic practice: A descriptive cross-sectional study

Michael Fleischmann, Brett Vaughan, Sandra Grace, Alexander Stewart, Charlotte Hart, Elizabeth Brew, Georgette Masters, Lachlan Smeeton, Lydia Thompson, Megan Brooks

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Background Visceral techniques have taken their place in the established osteopathic treatment approaches, however, very little research exists on their use in clinical settings in Australia. This study reports on the prevalence, enablers of and barriers to visceral technique use by registered osteopaths currently practising in Australia utilising a nationally representative database from the Osteopathy Research and Innovation Network (ORION). Methods The recruitment invitation pack for this study was distributed via email to the ORION database during July 2019. The study utilised a 27-item survey with both Likert scale and free text responses. All data were imported into the statistical software package SPSSTM 25 for descriptive statistical analysis. Results A total of 143 Australian osteopaths participated in the study representing a response rate of 14.4%. The participants reported a mean number of 16.1 years in practice, with 55.3% identifying as female and approximately 70% reporting as working from a metropolitan location. The majority of respondents (71.5%) reported using visceral techniques within the preceding 6 months, with 12.8% indicating that they had previously used visceral techniques in practice but had subsequently elected to stop using them. Key barriers identified by the study in relation to visceral technique usage related to practitioner knowledge, confidence and a perceived lack of support, while enablers were linked to perceived benefit in patient management and private payment. Conclusion This study provides an important step forward in our understanding of the current use of visceral techniques by the Australian osteopathic workforce. Further research is required to better understand practitioners’ rationale for including visceral techniques in practice, patient outcomes where visceral techniques are used, and the cost-effectiveness of their inclusion in patient care.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAdvances in Integrative Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Osteopathic medicine
  • Practice-based research network
  • Visceral


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