University college of Osteopathy

Integrating mindfulness with osteopathy for chronic pain patients

The Osteopathy, Mindfulness and Acceptance-based Programme (OsteoMAP) is a study at the University College of Osteopathy, examining the effects of integrating psychological interventions with osteopathy for chronic pain patients.

It is the first study that combines mindfulness-based self-management with hands-on osteopathic treatment for individual patients with chronic pain. Most NHS pain management programmes deliver the physical and psychological aspects separately or are provided for groups of patients, not individuals. The 'step change' that has transformational potential is the integration of mindfulness practice with hands-on treatment. We think that combining the two approaches helps patients understand their pain better, learn how to self-manage it more effectively, and generate transformational changes in their ability to live more active and fulfilling lives, despite chronic pain.

The study was the first major osteopathic project to be funded by the UK Department of Health. We collected data that suggests promising changes in patients’ quality of life and ability to cope with pain, which are associated with increasing mindfulness skills and ability to respond flexibly to pain. OsteoMAP continues to make an impact on the health and wellbeing of patients who attend the UCO’s teaching clinic. The course of six sessions for individual patients was initially provided free of charge and is now offered at a subsidised rate. It's accessible and affordable.

The study has made a small but increasing national impact by training qualified osteopaths and student osteopaths to use OsteoMAP principles in their ongoing clinical work with patients with chronic pain throughout the UK.

Further reading