Incorporating exercise advice into patient management and treatment strategies is the focus of considerable attention within manual therapy. Whilst osteopaths may be well placed to deliver exercise and health promotion; there is little published evidence to suggest that osteopaths are incorporating exercise into treatment and management. Objective: Using content analysis, this study seeks to provide an accurate, contemporary picture of exercise content within UK osteopathic curricula. Method: Content analysis was used to explore the inclusion of exercise within the curricula of seven of the eight UK providers of osteopathic undergraduate education. Nine categories were generated spanning general to specific exercise-related content as defined by cue words and phrases located within the text. Frequency analysis for each of the categories across all curricula was used to provide a guide to the extensiveness of exercise content present. Qualitative content analysis explored the nature of and omissions from such content derived from the curricula. Results: Six of the curricula explored exercise content relating to movement, the theoretical principles of exercise and individualised or measurable responses to undertaking exercise or physical activity e.g. sports injuries. Clear links between osteopathic treatment and sport in general, sports injuries and the management of athletes were made. Only one school included explicit exercise content in the context of wider health education and promotion. Conclusion: Exercise content was variable in quantity and quality. The general exercise message is being conveyed, but schools appear not to be consolidating basic knowledge. Theoretical principles appear to be applied to the treatment and management of specialist sports populations, but exercise as part of wider public health promotion and education is not explicitly addressed. Exercise is broadly accepted as a therapeutic modality, but there is limited evidence of its use as an intervention. Practical content such as this may not be easily or succinctly documented. This study provides impetus for future research exploring the taught and received osteopathic curriculum in order to gain a greater insight into clinical education where exercise may be taught but not documented.
- Content analysis