Osteopathy: Time to look out that evidence …

Posted on May 28, 2010


Just a quick update on osteopathy & evidence (or lack of):

In earlier discussions with the GOsC, they agreed that there were areas where the guidance issued by the GOsC could be more focused, particularly when it comes to website claims being made by some sections of the Osteopathic profession.

Osteopathy: More words, Some actions, No evidence!

“Notwithstanding the points above, your observations regarding osteopathic websites indicate that the GOsC must be more targeted in our guidance to practitioners.”

Today the GOsC issued updated guidance to its members, reinforcing the requirement to ensure that osteopaths literature should comply with the ASA CAP guidelines.

GOsC e-Bulletin: Effectiveness of manual therapies

Importantly they have made clear, unambiguous statements about the need for treatment claims to be based on high quality evidence. There can be no doubt as to the message being sent to osteopaths

“Can you provide evidence that the treatment you are offering is effective for the conditions you are claiming to treat?  Osteopaths must ensure that the information you provide to your patients and the public that names conditions which may respond well to osteopathic treatment is based on solid evidence from high-quality research.”

The GOsC’s latest guidance also references the ‘Effectiveness of manual therapies’ report commissioned by the GCC and links to the NCOR’s statement on this report.  This report is critical of a number of manual therapies, including OMT in relation to the treatment of a range of non-musculoskeletal conditions.

This was covered when I first contacted the GOsC on the subject of evidence:   Osteopaths: Talking a good game (included NCOR statement)

At present there are still a large number of UK osteopathy websites making claims that would not seem to be substantiated by any good quality research!   It didn’t take long to produce a list of sites and claims that are deserving of scrutiny, the majority seem to be those practicing cranial osteopathy. Now what is needed is for these osteopaths to take action on this advice.

Either remove those claims from your advertising literature and websites, or perhaps it’s time to look out that evidence …… just in case you are asked to produce it!
Just in case there is any doubt as to the requirements, Section 3 of the CAP Codes General Rules is perfectly clear.


3.1  Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove all claims, whether direct or implied, that are capable of objective substantiation. Relevant evidence should be sent without delay if requested by the ASA or CAP.  The adequacy of evidence will be judged on whether it supports both the detailed claims and the overall impression created by the marketing communication.  The full name and geographical business address of marketers should be provided without delay if requested by the ASA or CAP.

3.2  If there is a significant division of informed opinion about any claims made in a marketing communication they should not be portrayed as generally agreed.

3.3  Claims for the content of non-fiction books, tapes, videos and the like that have not been independently substantiated should not exaggerate the value, accuracy, scientific validity or practical usefulness of the product.

3.4  Obvious untruths or exaggerations that are unlikely to mislead and incidental minor errors and unorthodox spellings are all allowed provided they do not affect the accuracy or perception of the marketing communication in any material way.

It’s probably fair to say it will take a short while for any changes to be implemented on the websites that need to change.   Perhaps this time next month would be a good time to see just how many osteopaths choose to ignore the guidance!

The GOsC have also stated:

“Your additional queries relating to “cranial osteopathy” highlight another area where information could be fuller in the public interest.”

Hopefully they will issue some guidance to the public on these areas.

Posted in: Osteopathy