Patients’ perceptions of Osteopath education

Ian Drysdale, British College of Osteopathic Medicine, UK

How patients perceive the level of qualification needed for UK registration may sway their choice of osteopathy as treatment and of individual practitioners. In 2008, the British College of Osteopathic Medicine conducted a national survey of patients’ osteopathic experiences (POstE) through media channels, including knowledge of educational requirements. Information was collected confidentially from 769 respondents (31% male), aged <1 (adult completed) to 90 years; 40% were professional and 26% retired. A vast majority (91%) correctly understood that osteopaths must be registered with a governing body. Length of training was less well identified with 35% believing it to be 3 years and 64% full time. Minimum qualifications were thought to be diploma (34%) or BSc (31%) or both (2%) with 22% unsure. The findings did not appear to depend on the subject having had a good or bad experience. Despite osteopaths having to attain a good level of education to register, such understanding is evidently inconsistent in this group of respondents suggesting that both practitioners and public confidence may benefit from better promotion of required standards for osteopathic practice.