Global snapshot of the osteopathy profession

The Osteopathic International Alliance (OIA) has published a global review of osteopathic medicine and osteopathy, which provides a snapshot of the profession in 2020 and charts its growth since 2013.

The findings show that the profession is growing rapidly, with the number of osteopaths increasing by 84% worldwide since 2013. This equates to just over 79,000 osteopaths, 45,000 of whom are statutorily regulated and registered in 13 countries. This, the report says, suggests greater acknowledgment and acceptance of the profession globally. In total, the report estimates 196,861 clinicians delivered osteopathic care worldwide in 46 countries.

In addition to demographics, the review provides an evaluation of education and training in each country, including the requirements for continuing professional development (CPD), as well as the range and diversity of treatment modalities and techniques used, and the evidence base available to support osteopathic practice.

In Australia, 2741 osteopaths were registered in 2020 compared with 1725 in 2013, which represents an increase of 59%. Australia was found to have 11 osteopaths per 100,000, which is the fourth largest after Switzerland, New Zealand and France. Australian osteopaths were also found to be the most likely to have a postgraduate degree (Masters or above).

Most osteopath practitioners were aged between 30 and 49 years in almost all regions, with Australia and Ireland having the youngest age demographic, with the proportion of osteopaths under the age of 49 years being 84% and 80%, respectively.

The report found that although the patient demographic had changed since 2013, the reasons for seeking care had not. In 2013, 69% of patients were aged between 21 and 70 years old, compared with 49.5% in 2020. Meanwhile, the percentage of children below the age of 2 years increased from 8.7% in 2013 to 16.7% in 2020; older patients (>65 years) represented 15.1% in 2020 compared with 9% in 2013. Overall, more females (60%) visited osteopaths than males (40%).

Low back, mid-back and neck pain were the most common presenting complaints; overall, a third of patients sought care for acute conditions.

Visit the OIA website at https://oialliance.org/the-oia-global-report-global-review-of-osteopathic-medicine-and-osteopathy-2020/ to download the full report.

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