Collaboration as a path to professional research: advantages and challenges for osteopath researchers based on two recent experiences in Canada

What could be a plausible path to conducting professional research? This question must be addressed to ensure the development of clinical research in osteopathy. Two Canadian osteopaths have recently experienced inter professional collaboration while obtaining research-based Master’s degrees in clinical sciences. Based on these experiences, advantages and challenges of this type of collaboration will be discussed.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) prioritizes evidence-based and cost-effective patient-oriented research, referring to a continuum of research and its integration into both the health care system and clinical practice. This cornerstone of evidence-informed health care is prioritized so as to better ensure the translation of innovative diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to the point of care. To achieve this, more methodologists and health care professionals, especially those with advanced degrees trained in core research methods, are needed. The osteopathic community should encourage practicing osteopaths to pursue this rigorous training in order to be included within teams that offer inter professional scientific expertise.

Many advantages are inherent to this type of collaboration: credibility, funding, access to methodological experts, ease of publication in peer-reviewed journals, and creation of bridges that link alternative and complementary medicine with the conventional medical stream in a patient-oriented research approach. There are also many challenges to consider: lack of documentation on reliability of osteopathic evaluation tools; a dearth of observational studies to document associations between osteopathic dysfunctions prior to trying to demonstrate osteopathic treatment efficacy; a shortage of researcher-osteopaths; and the need for osteopathic and scientific language standardization.

Chantal Morin:
Studied osteopathy at the Centre Ostéopathique du Québec (COQ) (1996-2002). She has a Bachelor’s degree from McGill University in Occupational therapy and Master’s degree in clinical sciences from the medical faculty at Sherbrooke University. She is now candidate for a PhD degree in this same faculty. She has received many awards recognizing her research on the relationship between temporal bone dysfunction and otitis media, garnering recognition from the Faculty of Medecine, the osteopathic community and the American Academy of Pediatrics. She is presently an osteopathy teacher at the COQ, a teaching assistant in rehabilitation programs at the University de Sherbrooke, and has a private practice in Québec, Canada

Nathalie Trottier:
Studied osteopathy at the College d’Etude Ostéopathiques de Montreal (1991-98) and physiotherapy at the University of Montreal (1987-90). She presented an osteopathic thesis on the work and teaching of Dr. William G. Sutherland and received the Andrew Taylor Still award for the most representative, philosophical and sociological research for osteopathic advancement. Nathalie works in a collaborative medicine clinic in Alberta, exploring both alternative and conventional fields. She recently completed her Master’s degree at the University of Calgary and conducted a research on the effectiveness of osteopathic manual treatment in the conservative management of infants with deformational plagiocephaly and congenital muscular torticolis at the Alberta Children’s Hospital.