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Osteopathic empirical research: a bibliometric analysis from 1966 to 2018


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Sistematic Review


Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment

BMC Complement Med Ther. 2021 Jul 7;21(1):196. doi: 10.1186/s12906-021-03366-3.


Chantal Morin, Isabelle Gaboury


Background: Despite the increasing use of osteopathy, a manipulative complementary and alternative medicine therapy, in the general population, its efficacy continues to be debated. In this era of evidence-based practice, no studies have previously reviewed the scientific literature in the field to identify published knowledge, trends and gaps in empirical research. The aims of this bibliometric analysis are to describe characteristics of articles published on the efficacy of osteopathic interventions and to provide an overall portrait of their impacts in the scientific literature.

Methods: A bibliometric analysis approach was used. Articles were identified with searches using a combination of relevant MeSH terms and indexing keywords about osteopathy and research designs in MEDLINE and CINAHL databases. The following indicators were extracted: country of primary author, year of publication, journals, impact factor of the journal, number of citations, research design, participants' age group, system/body part addressed, primary outcome, indexing keywords and types of techniques.

Results: A total of 389 articles met the inclusion criteria. The number of empirical studies doubled every 5 years, with the United States, Italy, Spain, and United Kingdom being the most productive countries. Twenty-three articles were cited over 100 times. Articles were published in 103 different indexed journals, but more than half (53.7%) of articles were published in one of three osteopathy-focused readership journals. Randomized control trials (n = 145; 37.3%) and case reports (n = 142; 36.5%) were the most common research designs. A total of 187 (48.1%) studies examined the effects of osteopathic interventions using a combination of techniques that belonged to two or all of the classic fields of osteopathic interventions (musculoskeletal, cranial, and visceral).

Conclusion: The number of osteopathy empirical studies increased significantly from 1980 to 2014. The productivity appears to be very much in sync with practice development and innovations; however, the articles were mainly published in osteopathic journals targeting a limited, disciplinary-focused readership.

Publication Date: 

2021 Jul



Morin, C., Gaboury, I. (2021) 'Osteopathic empirical research: a bibliometric analysis from 1966 to 2018', BMC Complement Med Ther. 2021 Jul 7;21(1):196. doi: 10.1186/s12906-021-03366-3.

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