Practitioner and practice characteristics of Australian osteopaths who discuss lifestyle factors with patients: Findings from a national practice-based research network.

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Health & social care in the community, 2021
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Healthcare professionals' advice on lifestyle behaviours is a key factor in improving a nation's health. Although allied health professionals have been well placed to provide such advice as part of patient care, little is known about the characteristics of allied health practitioners who discuss lifestyle topics with patients. This paper focused upon an overlooked avenue for lifestyle advice regarding an allied health profession - osteopathy. A workforce survey including questions about four lifestyle topics (including diet/nutrition, smoking/drugs/alcohol, physical activity/fitness, and stress management) was distributed to a nationally representative sample of Australian registered osteopaths in 2016. Separate multivariate logistic regression and Poisson regression models were developed to determine the most important predictors of the discussion of lifestyle factors. Amongst the 992 participating osteopaths, 89%, 49%, 38%, and 18% often discussed physical activity/fitness, stress management, diet/nutrition, and smoking/drugs/alcohol with their patients, respectively. Approximately 30% of participating osteopaths discussed at least three lifestyle topics with patients. Varied predictors were identified for discussing each lifestyle topic. Osteopaths who often discuss diet/nutrition in patient management plans were more likely to often discuss smoking/drugs/alcohol (OR = 14.13), physical activity/fitness (OR = 2.71), and/or stress management (OR = 1.69). In conclusion, lifestyle factors are often discussed with patients as part of osteopathy treatments in the Australian healthcare context. Osteopaths are well positioned to initiate discussions regarding patient lifestyles, and such discussions may be an effective contribution to health promotion.
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