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ORION Q&A

WHAT WAS THE CATALYST FOR THE RESEARCH PROJECT?

Little is known about the details of osteopathy practice in Australia from patient populations, to treatment types and outcomes. Without this insight and the mapping of daily practice, it’s hard to move forward into other research areas within the profession or lobbying for extended roles.

ORION is about starting from the grass roots of osteopathy. It’s not an experimental design written by a researcher. It’s about collecting data that aligns with day-to-day practice.

The research will answer questions like:

  • What happens in osteopathy in Australia?
  • What is insightful and important in terms of evidence base within osteopathy?
  • We want to discover what is happening in osteopathy practice:
    • which treatments are used,
    • what experiences patients and osteopaths have,
    • what types of patients are being treated,
    • what their outcomes are, and
    • what practitioners do within in each consultation.

 

WHY IS THIS RESEARCH SO IMPORTANT TO THE INDUSTRY?

In the contemporary environment of evidence-informed healthcare, it is important for all health professionals to underpin their practices with the findings of empirical investigation. This is perhaps even more important for a profession such as osteopathy that is keen to develop a closer relationship within healthcare and further establish a mainstream position. Health research can often appear to address issues not adequately grounded in, or reflecting grassroots practice, and what is essential is that emerging osteopathy research be reflective of, and provide benefit for, practitioners and patients. Without such information Osteopathy Australia is fighting with one arm tied behind our back.

ORION is not just about the next few years; the research will allow us to set up a platform the profession can build on for many years. It is also an opportunity for osteopaths, students and academics to be a part of a significant, empirical-based research project.

 

WHY HAVE I BEEN INVITED TO PARTICIPATE IN ORION?

ORION aims to examine the daily routine care of osteopaths across Australia. As a registered practising osteopath you are invited, along with all your professional colleagues, to provide basic information about yourself, your practice and your patients.

 

HOW CAN I BE INVOLVED?

The initial phase of ORION will involve a broad survey around osteopaths and osteopathy practice. We need as many osteopath as possible to fill in this survey. It is expected to result in numerous publications on osteopathy. You will also have the opportunity to be a participant in future research programs on either quite specific parts of practice. 

 

WHAT DOES THE RESEARCH PROJECT INVOLVE?

First we’ll conduct a national survey of osteopaths to gain insight into their behaviours, approaches and day-to-day practice. The second phase involves looking at more detailed questions about practice, as well as examining patient experience and outcomes. ORION really comes down to the participation of osteopaths. We need as many participants as possible to help us make the study reliable and valuable to the profession. It’s an exciting way for osteopaths to be empowered within their profession, while being part of a significant research initiative to help develop an evidence-base.

 

HOW LONG WILL MY PARTICIPATION TAKE?

Extensive pilot testing shows participating in ORION takes only 10-12 minutes of your time. You can visit the ORION website front page (www.orion-arccim.com) and simply click on the questionnaire tab to begin. 

 

WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO ACHIEVE?

We hope to develop a sustainable research culture and evidence-base that is directly relevant to, and reflects, the concerns and practice of osteopaths.

Rather than just being a project that comes and goes, we’re hoping to establish a platform the profession and osteopathic academics (current and future) can build on, and develop an advanced and co-ordinated approach. The project is about mapping practice and underpinning practice with evidence.

While Osteopathy Australia and osteopaths will have ample opportunity to provide input to the study (this is a vital feature to ensure the research is relevant to practice) the independence of the research team is important to ensure the credibility and reliability of findings.

 

WHY NOT BASE ORION WITHIN AN EXISTING OSTEOAPTHY UNIVERISTY?

Osteopathy Australia saw real value in being able to use an independent, internationally recognised research body headed by two Professors of Public Health to assist in promoting osteopathy and gaining multiple publications on osteopathic practice. Having said that the aim of the project is to build sustainability beyond ORION in research and clearly that is a role for our osteopathic learning institutions.

It is also true to say that Osteopathy Australia did not want to fund one Osteopathy University over the two other universities, especially as a core component of ORION is broader collaboration.

WHAT MAKES ORION DIFFERENT TO OTHER RESEARCH CONDUCTED IN OSTEOPATHY IN AUSTRALIA TO DATE?

ORION is fundamentally different to other osteopathy research conducted to date in Australia in two key ways. First, ORION is more than just a one-off examination of a specific issue in osteopathy. In contrast, ORION provides the national resource for the osteopathy profession to build an evidence base, grow research capacity and develop a sustainable research culture over the next decade and beyond. Second, ORION is focused upon your daily routine care to ensure studies and results are of practical relevance to you and the patients you serve. This approach means participating osteopaths and patients are able to help generate research on issues that have a direct bearing and impact upon everyday care and the outcomes of that care.

 

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT I PARTICIPATE?

ORION is an opportunity for YOU to contribute your unique practice characteristics and details to the study of osteopathy in Australia through time – only through participation can your voice be heard. Also, the more osteopaths who contribute, the more impact and validity the project will have in helping promote and develop your practice and your profession.

 

HOW WILL THE PROJECT BENEFIT OSTEOPATHY STUDY AND TERTIARY EDUCATION?

The more we can create an evidence-informed practice, the more we can help university students garner real knowledge about their chosen profession. This project will not only give insight into clinical techniques, but also provide insights to help students engage with research, to alert them to the importance of research, plus produce empirical data to help them inform their own practice.

ORION can also ask direct questions about osteopathy education. For instance, a possible sub-study could look at new graduates and the transition from university to private practice.  Studies like these would be relevant to many other professions, not just osteopathy.

 

WHAT ASSOCIATED OPPORTUNITIES WILL THE RESEARCH CREATE FOR THE INDUSTRY MOVING FORWARD?

One of the benefits of the study’s design is that it can house many different sub-studies. We urge any osteopaths who are considering research to join us via the sub-studies to explore the profession further. Expressions of interest will be open in late 2015 - 2016.

It’s also a great opportunity for PhD students to ‘nest’ their PhD project within the existing research via sub-studies. This collaboration with PhD students is another way we’re hoping to develop capacity building within osteopathy.

These can be based within many universities as the overall aim is to create a broad and sustainable osteopathic research culture. As such working closely with osteopathy learning institutions is essential.

 

DOES THIS MEAN OSTEOPATHY AUSTRLAIA WILL NOT FUND RESEARCH AT RMIT, SCU OR VU?

No it does not. Osteopathy Australia allocated over $50,000 per year (for over a decade) to osteopathy research and that will continue in tandem with ORION into the future.  If you are told otherwise it is false!

Osteopathy Australia will fund both and has a separate call for funding around industry research initiatives, PHD scholarships and small grants rounds that focus in in priority research areas. These will be competitive call for proposals and open to each university and others based on the research proposals they submit. Osteopathy Australia’s research strategy can be found: http://www.osteopathy.org.au/pages/research.html

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