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Abstract

Objectives: This study investigated the beliefs and attitudes of UK registered osteopaths towards chronic pain and the management of chronic pain sufferers. Methods: A cross-sectional questionnaire based survey of UK registered osteopaths was performed to test the hypothesis that osteopaths have a more biopsychosocial approach to treating and managing chronic pain patients than other healthcare professionals. Sociodemographic determinants of the participants were explored and the original HC-PAIRS and the PABS-PT used as measurement tools. They assess practitioners' attitudes and beliefs towards perceived harmfulness of physical activities for patients with cLBP and participants' knowledge of pain. International meta-analyses were performed with both measurement tools to allow comparison with other healthcare professionals. Results: UK registered osteopaths (n=216) had mean PABS-PT subscale scores of 31.37 ± 6.26 [CI95% 30.53–32.21] (biomedical) and 32.72 ± 4.29 [CI95% 32.14–33.29] (biopsychosocial). The mean HC-PAIRS total score was 45.45 ± 10.05 [CI95% 44.11–46.8]. These indicate a wide spread of beliefs and knowledge towards chronic pain with a tendency to agree that physical activity is not necessarily harmful for patients with cLBP. Post-graduate education had a significant positive effect on questionnaire results. Meta-analyses revealed that UK registered osteopaths have significantly better HC-PAIRS scores than most physiotherapy students, nurses and pharmacists, and had similar PABS-PT scores to most other healthcare professionals. Conclusions: The hypothesis of UK registered osteopaths having a more biopsychosocial approach to treating and managing chronic pain patients in comparison to other healthcare providers has been rejected. This seems in contrast to the typically claimed unique concepts of osteopathy. Nevertheless, this study supports their ability to engage with psychosocial factors of the patients' pain experience, but shows that it can be improved. This paper suggests that training is needed to increase osteopaths' expertise in knowledge of chronic pain, and their attitudes towards the management of chronic pain sufferers.

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