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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter November 10, 2022

Palpatory tests in manual therapies: an international survey on osteopathic clinical practice

  • Emanuele Novelli EMAIL logo , Livio Molinari , Stefano Consolo and Luca Mingrone



The primary aim of the study is to explore the knowledge and use of palpatory tests in detecting somatic dysfunction, the second is to assess the knowledge about the inhibitory tests among osteopathic practitioners in Italy, England, and France.


A quantitative survey was conducted, between March and May 2021, through the administration of a semi-structured questionnaire. The participants had to answer 8 questions.


A total of 2,223 e-mails were sent: 423 manual therapy professionals participated in the survey. Subsequently, only the responses of the 385 osteopaths (280 Italian, 23 French and 82 British) were included in the data processing; the 38 excluded were physiotherapists and chiropractors. The most significative outcomes for the total sample were found to: years of working experience and knowledge of a palpatory test that allows to discriminate two dysfunctional anatomical structures was significant with a χ2=12.509 (p-value <0.006); 68.5% answered in the affirmative to this last question. It was found that less work experience is associated with knowledge of a palpatory test to discriminate two dysfunctional structures. The correlation between years of work experience and knowledge of the inhibitory test was explored with the result being statistically significant (p-value <0.001). 64.4% know and use the inhibitory test. 39.1% base the inhibitory test on tissue change.


The clinical practice of Italian and French professionals, makes possible to establish the hierarchy between two somatic dysfunctions with respect to English sample. The osteopaths reported a wider use of the tissue change parameters rather than pain reported by the patient. Furthermore, more than half of the sample-based their discriminatory test on the musculoskeletal and fascial systems. There is a vast knowledge of the inhibition test among osteopaths.

Corresponding author: Emanuele Novelli, DO, BSc, Centre pour l’Etude, la Recherche et la Diffusion Osteopatiques, Department of research, Rome, Italy, Phone: +393495387885, E-mail:

  1. Research funding: None declared.

  2. Author contributions: Emanuele Novelli: Conceptualization, Investigation, Writing- original draft. Livio Molinari: Conceptualization, Investigation, Writing- original draft. Stefano Consolo: Data analyst, Data curation, Formal analysis. Luca Mingrone: Conceptualization, Investigation, Writing- original draft.

  3. Competing interests: The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

  4. Informed consent: Informed consent was obtained from all individuals included in this study, by means of the google form questionnaire.

  5. Ethical approval: Not applicable.

Appendix A: Survey questions

  1. Work activity (1).

  2. Years of working experience (2).

  3. Knowledge of a palpation test that allows to discriminate two dysfunctional anatomical structures (3).

  4. The name of the test used (4).

    The physiological parameters on which the test acts (5).

  5. Knowledge of the inhibitory test (6).

  6. In what context was the inhibitory test learned (7).

  7. Which parameters are used for the use of the inhibitory test (8).


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Received: 2022-04-27
Accepted: 2022-10-10
Published Online: 2022-11-10

© 2022 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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