Clinical characteristics of Australian osteopaths who teach: A national sample

Paul Orrock, Brett Vaughan, Michael Fleischmann, Kylie Fitzgerald


Background: Health professionals involved in teaching future practitioners have been studied to some extent, but our knowledge of their clinical characteristics is variable. Our study sought to profile the clinical characteristics of osteopaths who teach in the three Australian universities delivering pre-professional osteopathy education.

Materials: This study is a secondary analysis of data collected via the Australian Osteopathy Research and Innovation Network (ORION) project. Descriptive statistics were generated for each of the 27-item questionnaire variables. For binary responses, unadjusted odds ratios were calculated, and for continuous variables, independent t-tests were used. Backward step-wise regression modelling was used to identify significant characteristics associated with university teaching in osteopathy. 

Results: The survey demonstrated 9.9% of Australian osteopaths reported being involved in university teaching. Compared to non-teaching survey respondents, the osteopaths involved in university teaching were more likely to be female (OR 1.56), older (p < 0.01) and in clinical practice for longer (p < 0.01) but report fewer patient care hours (p < 0.01) and patient visits per week (p < 0.01). Osteopaths involved in university teaching were also more likely to be involved in research (OR 18.54) and clinical supervision (OR 12.39). They also reported a broader range of patient presentations and therapeutic modalities than their counterparts.

Conclusions: This nationally representative survey demonstrates a small percentage of the Australian osteopathy profession are engaged in university teaching. Our secondary analysis has highlighted several characteristics associated with involvement in university teaching that begin to shed light on the composition of the Australian osteopathy teaching workforce. This data may inform development of a skilled and experienced teaching workforce.


osteopathic medicine; training; university teacher attributes; clinical teaching

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