Patients' expectations of osteopathic care: a qualitative study

Vinette Cross, Carolyn Leach, Carol Fawkes, A. Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Research has shown that patients' expectations of health care and health-care practitioners are complex and may have a significant impact on outcomes of care. Little is known about the expectations of osteopathic patients. OBJECTIVES: To explore osteopathic patients' expectations of private sector care. DESIGN: Focus groups and individual interviews with purposively selected patients; this was the qualitative phase of a mixed methods study, the final phase being a patient survey. SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: A total of 34 adult patients currently attending for treatment at private osteopathic practices across the United Kingdom. INTERVENTION: Focus group discussions and individual interviews around expectations before, during and after osteopathic care. OUTCOME MEASURES: Thematic analysis of text data to identify topics raised by patients and to group these into broad themes. RESULTS: Many components of expectation were identified. A preliminary conceptual framework describing the way the therapeutic encounter is approached in osteopathy comprised five themes: individual agency, professional expertise, customer experience, therapeutic process and interpersonal relationship. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION: The components of expectation identified in this phase of the study provided potential question topics for the survey questionnaire in the subsequent phase of the investigation. The model developed in this study may add a new perspective to existing evidence on expectations. Further research is recommended to test the findings both within private practice and the National Health Service.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHealth Expectations
Publication statusPublished - 30 May 2013


  • expectations
  • focus groups
  • interviews
  • musculoskeletal manipulations
  • osteopathic medicine
  • qualitative research


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