Osteopathy and evidence-based practice- getting there, but challenges still ahead

Whilst NOT perfect (and continually under evolution and refinement- e.g. Greenhalgh et al 2014), evidence-based practice (EBP) is the OPTIMAL and ETHICAL approach to clinical healthcare practice.

The now familiar definition of EBP is the integration of best research evidence WITH clinical expertise AND patient values & preferences.. EBP was developed in the early 1980s, with many medical and health professions responding by emphasising research and critical thinking/appraisal in their educational programmes and professional practice (see here).

Needless to say, the transition AWAY from FAITH-based, BELIEF-based, GURU-based and PRACTITIONER-based practice TOWARDS EVIDENCE-based and PERSON-centred practice has posed a variety of CHALLENGES for ALL healthcare professions. 

Osteopathy was a little late to the EBP party, partly due to osteopathic practice being steeped in TRADITIONAL knowledge, GURUISM and ANECDOTE . These factors combined with FUNDING challenges to carry out research, LIMITED presence of osteopathy courses in UNIVERSITIES and limited research LEADERSHIP and SKILLS in the osteopathy profession, meant it was always going to make the transition to EBP for osteopathy particularly challenging.

In light of these challenges, the findings of our national study UK of osteopaths’ attitudes, skills and usage of EBP is encouraging and offers optimism for the future  (notwithstanding the limitations of the study of course!). Have a read of the full paper for free here.

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