Context: Updated data on the use of Osteopathic Manipulative Treatments (OMT) by osteopathic physicians in the United States is overdue. This data would provide an up-to-date point of reference for evaluating the current use of OMT as a distinguishing feature of the osteopathic profession.
Objective: To determine the prevalence of OMT use, barriers to its use, and factors that correlate with increased use.
Methods: The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) distributed its triannual survey on professional practices and preferences of osteopathic physicians, including questions on OMT, to a random sample of 10,000 osteopathic physicians in August 2018 through Survey Monkey (San Mateo, CA). Follow-up efforts included a paper survey mailed to nonrespondents one month after initial distribution and three subsequent email reminders. The survey was available from August 15, 2018 to November 5, 2018. The OMT questions focused on frequency of OMT use, perceived barriers, and basic demographic information of osteopathic physician respondents. Statistical analysis (including a one sample test of proportion, chi-square, and Spearman’s rho) was performed to identify significant factors influencing OMT use.
Results: Of 10,000 surveyed osteopathic physicians, 1,683 (16.83%) responded. Of those respondents, 1,308 (77.74%) reported using OMT on less than 5% of their patients, while 958 (56.95%) did not use OMT on any of their patients. Impactful barriers to OMT use included lack of time, lack of reimbursement, lack of institutional/practice support, and lack of confidence/proficiency. Factors positively correlated with OMT use included female gender, being full owner of a practice, and practicing in an office-based setting.
Conclusion: Our data suggest that OMT use among osteopathic physicians in the US continues to decline. Barriers to its use appear to be related to the difficulty that most physicians have with successfully integrating OMT into the country’s insurance-based system of healthcare delivery. Follow-up investigations on this subject in subsequent years will be imperative in the ongoing effort to monitor and preserve the distinctiveness of the osteopathic profession.