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Letters to the Editor  |   December 2010
Response
Author Affiliations
  • Michael Fitzgerald, BA
    AOA Director of Publications and Publisher
Article Information
Neuromusculoskeletal Disorders / Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment / Osteopathic Cranial Manipulative Medicine
Letters to the Editor   |   December 2010
Response
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, December 2010, Vol. 110, 746. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2010.110.12.746
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, December 2010, Vol. 110, 746. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2010.110.12.746
In this month's “Letters” section of JAOA—The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, both Tyler C. Cymet, DO, and Thomas Wesley Allen, DO, MPH, take us back in time to remind us of how important it is for osteopathic physicians to adhere to a common language in describing the unique care they provide. 
Dr Cymet reminds us that before the Glossary of Osteopathic Terminology was first published 29 years ago,1 many osteopathic medical colleges used different terms to describe the same conditions and treatments. Dr Allen, in turn, reminds us that 21 years before the Glossary premiered, the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) established its first policy to use the term osteopathic medicine in place of osteopathy and the term osteopathic physician and surgeon in place of osteopath. 
As the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine's staff liaison to the Educational Council on Osteopathic Principles (ECOP), Dr Cymet is appropriately exercising his duty as ECOP's steward when he questions why the JAOA would adopt terminology that differs from what ECOP approved for the Glossary's most current version.2 
Like ECOP, the JAOA has long supported standardized terminology in osteopathic medicine. In fact, on nearly every major issue related to terminology, the JAOA's style guidelines and the Glossary agree. Where they disagree on major issues are in the rare instances in which policy set by the AOA House of Delegates conflicts with the Glossary. Currently, that conflict centers on one term: osteopathy in the cranial field. 
While the Glossary uses osteopathy in the cranial field, the JAOA prefers to use either osteopathic manipulative medicine in the cranial field or cranial osteopathic manipulative medicine. The JAOA's preference is grounded in the AOA's 50-year tradition that Dr. Allen described in his letter. The AOA House of Delegates reconfirmed that tradition in July when it passed as policy House Resolution 301 (A-2010), which is titled “Osteopath and Osteopathy—Use of the Terms.” While that 2010 policy allows for a few exceptions, it calls for the AOA to preferentially use osteopathic medicine in place of the word osteopathy and osteopathic physician in place of osteopath. 
Despite the JAOA's style preference, The Journal does allow authors to use osteopathy in the cranial field if they insist on using that term in their articles. But in deference to the AOA's policy, the JAOA includes with those articles an editor's note such as the following one from the JAOA's April brief report titled “Effect of Osteopathy in the Cranial Field on Visual Function—A Pilot Study.”3 

Editor's Note: In this article, the authors use the term osteopathy in the cranial field to describe the palpatory techniques and osteopathic manipulative treatment used to assess cranial dysfunction and to treat patients for such dysfunction.

The authors use osteopathy in the cranial field because it is a more universally used term than cranial osteopathic manipulative medicine and osteopathic [manipulative] medicine in the cranial field, which are the terms preferred by the style guidelines of JAOA—The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

 
Still, Dr Cymet makes a valid point in urging the JAOA to bring its style concerns to ECOP for its consideration. The JAOA plans to do just that in the hope that ECOP can offer a solution that the JAOA can bring back to the AOA House of Delegates. 
The Project on Osteopathic Principles Education. Glossary of osteopathic terminology. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 1981;80(8):552-567.
Educational Council on Osteopathic Principles of the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine. Glossary of Osteopathic Terminology. Rev ed. Chevy Chase, MD: American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine; April 2009. http://www.aacom.org/resources/Documents/Downloads/GOT2009ed.pdf. Accessed December 2, 2010.
Sandhouse ME, Shechtman D, Sorkin R, et al. Effect of osteopathy in the cranial field on visual function—a pilot study. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2010;110(4):239-243. http://www.jaoa.org/cgi/content/full/110/4/239. Accessed December 2, 2010.