Osteopathy is a science transmitted by high-quality training. In Austria only persons who have a degree in an orthodox medicine profession like medical doctors, dentists or physiotherapists can undergo the training. Osteopathy is not yet regulated by law in Austria. The initial contact with patients is reserved for medical doctors. Physiotherapists need a doctor's referral. Accordingly the following central questions are of interest for osteopaths whose basic discipline is physiotherapy: What is the current level of knowledge about osteopathy among medical doctors in private practice in the Weinviertel, a small-town and rural Austrian region?
The thesis at hand focuses on medical doctors in private practice in the Weinviertel, a small-town and rural region in Austria. To what extent do medical doctors view osteopathy as an option for diagnosis and therapy in their daily work? Are there differences concerning the knowledge of the medical doctors depending on their sex, age, professional experience and specialty? The data presented in this study were gathered in 2006 by means of a posted questionnaire designed by M. Eppensteiner in 2006. 149 of 563 posted questionnaires were returned, which corresponds to a total response rate of 25.9%. The doctors who answered the questionnaire answered correctly at a percentage of 62.7% on average (SD: 18.4). Female doctors are better informed about osteopathy than male doctors (65.9%, SD: 16.3 versus 59.9%, SD: 19.8; Wilcoxon test: W=3109, p=0.07). Doctors aged between 40 and 50 have the highest level of knowledge (65.3% right answers, SD: 17.4), doctors older than 50 the lowest (Wilcoxon test: W=2143). General practitioners are better informed than dentists (65.5%, SD: 17.1 versus 59.1%, SD: 19.5, Wilcoxon test: W=838, p=0.10). In general the doctors are well informed about general aspects of osteopathy (on average 76.6% right answers, SD: 25.1). On the other hand, 70% of the doctors do not feel confident concerning their knowledge about osteopathy and 75% would like to have more information about osteopathy.
Medical doctors who are better informed about the spectrum of diagnosis and treatment options offered by osteopathy can prescribe osteopathic treatment and refer their patients to osteopaths in a more targeted manner.