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The use of exercise prescription in Australian osteopathy practice: secondary analysis of a nationally representative sample of the profession
  • Michael FleischmannOrcid,
  • Brett VaughanOrcid,
  • Kylie Fitzgerald
Michael Fleischmann
Orcid
Victoria University College of Health and Biomedicine
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Brett Vaughan
Orcid
University of Melbourne
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Kylie Fitzgerald
Independent Researcher
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Abstract

Introduction: Exercise is beneficial for improving general health, wellbeing and specific medical conditions. In musculoskeletal conditions such as chronic low back and neck pain, prescribed exercise has been found to be moderately effective in decreasing pain and improving function. Osteopaths are primary contact health professionals who manage predominantly musculoskeletal complaints. This work presents a secondary data analysis of the Australian osteopathy practice-based research network and profiles the characteristics of osteopaths who often use exercise prescription in patient care. Methodology: Secondary analysis of a cross-sectional survey of 992 osteopaths registered with the Osteopathy Research and Innovation Network, an Australian practice-based research network. Demographic, practice and treatment characteristics of Australian osteopaths who ‘often’ use exercise prescription in patient care were examined. Results: Seven-hundred and thirty-three Australian osteopaths (74%) indicated they use exercise prescription ‘often’ in patient care. Australian osteopaths who often use exercise prescription are more likely to be co-located with another osteopath (ORa 1.54), and send referrals to an exercise physiologist; (ORa 1.94). Those osteopaths who often use exercise prescription were also more likely to discuss physical activity (ORa 5.61), and nutrition (ORa 1.90). Australian osteopaths who use exercise prescription often were more likely to treat patients with sports injuries (ORa 2.43), and use soft tissue techniques (ORa 1.92), trigger point techniques (ORa 2.72) and sports taping (ORa 1.78). Conclusion: Osteopaths who utilise exercise prescription were more likely to discuss physical activity, diet and nutrition, and utilise referral networks with specialist medical practitioners and exercise physiologists. Australian osteopaths who often use exercise prescription were also more likely to treat sport injury patients. The results support the conclusion that Australian osteopaths use exercise prescription and have referral networks with other health professionals for patient management. Further work is required to explore the type of exercise prescription used and for what conditions.