Context: Osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) is utilized by clinicians to diagnose and treat a variety of musculoskeletal conditions including acute and chronic pain, and other medical conditions. Previous studies have examined attitudes of allopathic (MD) residents toward OMT and have implemented residency-based curricula; however, literature is lacking on the attitudes of MD students toward OMT.
Objectives: The objective of this study was to determine MD students’ familiarity with OMT and to evaluate their interest in an elective osteopathic curriculum.
Methods: A 15-item online survey was electronically sent to 600 MD students at a large allopathic academic medical center. The survey assessed familiarity with OMT, interest in OMT and in participating in an OMT elective, educational format preference, and interest in pursuing primary care. Educational demographics were also collected. Descriptive statistics and Fisher’s exact test were utilized for categorical variables, and nonparametric tests were utilized for the ordinal and continuous variables.
Results: A total of 313 MD students submitted responses (response rate=52.1 %), of which 296 (49.3 %) responses were complete and utilized for analysis. A total of 92 (31.1 %) students were aware of OMT as a modality in treating musculoskeletal disorders. Among the respondents who indicated “very interested” in learning a new pain treatment modality, the majority: (1) observed OMT in a prior clinical or educational setting (85 [59.9 %], p=0.02); (2) had a friend or family member treated by a DO physician (42 [71.2 %], p=0.01); (3) were pursuing a primary care specialty (43 [60.6 %], p=0.02); or (4) interviewed at an osteopathic medical school (47 [62.7 %], p=0.01). Among those interested in developing some OMT competency, the majority: (1) were pursuing a primary care specialty (36 [51.4 %], p=0.01); (2) applied to osteopathic schools (47 [54.0], p=0.002); or (3) interviewed at an osteopathic medical school (42 [56.8 %], p=0.001). A total of 230 (82.1 %) students were somewhat or very interested in a 2-week elective course in OMT; among all respondents, hands-on labs were the preferred method for delivery of OMT education (272 [94.1 %]).
Conclusions: The study found a strong interest in an OMT elective by MD students. These results will inform OMT curriculum development aimed at interested MD students and residents in order to provide them with OMT-specific theoretical and practical knowledge.