Baker HH, Linsenmeyer M, Ridpath LC, Bauer LJ, Foster RW. Osteopathic Medical Students Entering Family Medicine and Attitudes Regarding Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment: Preliminary Findings of Differences by Sex. J Am Osteopath Assoc 2017;117(6):387–392. doi: https://doi.org/10.7556/jaoa.2017.077.
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Factors distinguishing osteopathic physicians from their allopathic counterparts include the use of osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT), application of osteopathic principles and practice (OPP), and a greater likelihood of entering primary care, specifically family medicine (FM). In the United States, the percentage of entering osteopathic medical students who were female rose from 14.3% in fall 1977 to 44.3% in fall 2015.
To investigate the perspectives of female osteopathic medical students as they relate to osteopathic distinctiveness.
Students at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine who were eligible to participate in graduation exercises in 2014 or 2015 were asked to complete the school's standard Exit Survey. The research team chose 5 items from the survey to include in the current analysis. Sex had been self-identified at admission, and residency in first postgraduate year was categorized as FM or other specialty. Graduates entering a transitional year or traditional internship were removed from analysis.
Analysis was conducted for 308 of the 375 students (82%) expected to graduate in 2014 or 2015. χ2 analysis found no difference by sex in the number of graduates entering FM residencies vs other specialties (P=.727). Statistically significant differences were found in 2 survey items: “Use of OMT will enhance my practice” (P=.005) and “What emphasis do you believe OMT will have in your practice?” (P<.001). Graduating female students responded more favorably to OMT on both items. For the latter item, 91.4% of female and 80.3% of male students indicated OMT would have at least some role in their practices. Sex differences remained after statistically controlling for entry into FM.
Female graduating osteopathic medical students were more likely to report that OMT will have at least some role in their practices. Future studies of the attitudes and practice patterns of osteopathic physicians should analyze for differences by sex.
a Data are presented as No. (%). Differences were not statistically significant.
a Some participants did not complete every item.
b All significance tests were 1-tailed tests, measuring whether female students were more likely to have the desired attitudes.
Abbreviations: DOs, osteopathic physicians; MDs, allopathic physicians; OMT, osteopathic manipulative treatment.
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