Frequency of Specific Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment Modalities Used by Candidates While Taking COMLEX-USA Level 2-PE

Erik E. Langenau, DO; Dennis J. Dowling, MA, DO; Caitlin Dyer, MA; and William L. Roberts, EdD
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: January 12, 2012

Accepted: March 26, 2012

Published: August 1, 2012

J Osteopath Med; 112(8): 509-513

Context: As one of the key measures of clinical skills assessment, the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination-USA Level 2-Performance Evaluation (COMLEX-USA Level 2-PE) is used to rate candidates’ performance of osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT).

Objectives: To evaluate the frequency of specific OMT modalities used by COMLEX-USA Level 2-PE candidates and to report frequent use on the basis of clinical presentation.

Methods: With enhanced scoring procedures in place, OMT physician-examiners identified and documented specific OMT techniques that were performed by candidates at the 28 colleges of osteopathic medicine and branch campuses that had eligible students at that time. A frequency analysis for OMT techniques, according to clinical content axis, was applied to all candidates (N=4757) for the 2010-2011 testing cycle.

Results: Students used a wide range of specific OMT techniques. Candidates performed 24,202 instances of specific OMT techniques, including 10,471 myofascial/soft tissue (43.3%), 3942 muscle energy (16.3%), 1676 sinus drainage (6.9%), 1476 inhibition (6.1%), 1221 fascial release (5.0%), 1171 rib raising (4.8%), 918 lymphatic (3.8%), and 866 counterstrain (3.6%). A few students (<0.01%) used high-velocity, low-amplitude (HVLA), a technique that is prohibited from use on the COMLEX-USA Level 2-PE because of the potential hazard of repeatedly treating a standardized patient with thrust technique to the same segment in a given day. Additional techniques included functional, facilitated positional release, balanced ligamentous tension, and visceral. Use of techniques also varied according to the clinical presentation of the standardized patient (ie, cardiovascular, respiratory, neuromusculoskeletal, gastrointestinal, or other) and chronicity (ie, acute or chronic).

Conclusions: Findings contributed to a better understanding of the types of OMT techniques being used by candidates taking COMLEX-USA Level 2-PE. Frequency of use of specific OMT modalities varied according to clinical case presentation.

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