TCOM students publish key results on Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment study

Kassidy Fix
Kassidy Fix

Findings from a recent study by the team led by Dr. John Licciardone at the Osteopathic Research Center at The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth have been published by the Journal of Osteopathic Medicine.  

The study is the first large-scale effort to assess the effectiveness of Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment, or OMT, as integrated by osteopathic physicians within their overall medical care of patients with chronic low back pain as opposed to being provided in an isolated or limited fashion. 

“For more than four decades, researchers have been trying unsuccessfully to measure the efficacy of OMT using research methods that were largely developed for testing new drugs,” said Licciardone, executive director of the ORC and regents professor at HSC’s Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine. “As with surgery, psychotherapy and other physician-based therapies that are highly specialized and tailored to individual patients, the randomized controlled trial paradigm does not fit OMT. One of the reasons we established the Pain Registry for Epidemiological, Clinical, and Interventional Studies and Innovation, or PRECISION Pain Research Registry, was to study such therapies in real-world settings that mirror how medical care is actually provided throughout the United States.”  

Dr. John Licciardone
Dr. John Licciardone

The study included Licciardone and TCOM student doctors Samuel Moore, Kassidy Fix, Lillian Gowen Blair and Khanh Ta, all members of the Class of 2024. The students were part of the ORC’s Summer Program in Clinical Research and are the fifth group from that class thus far to publish a paper, spanning 21 TCOM students in all.  

“The ORC summer research program was beneficial to me because going into the summer of my first year in medical school, I had no experience in designing a research project, collecting data, running statistics or writing a manuscript,” Fix said. “During our four-week didactic course, we covered how to do all of that and more. I really feel more confident in pursuing additional research opportunities after having this experience.” 

A retrospective cohort study was conducted using 1,358 PRECISION registry participants with chronic low back pain to measure the effectiveness of OMT integrated within medical care provided by osteopathic physicians. 

The study showed that participants who received OMT reported significantly better outcomes pertaining to low back pain intensity, physical functioning and health-related quality of life over 12 months of follow-up, compared with participants who did not receive OMT.  

Additional analyses showed that the benefits of OMT persisted after adjusting for a series of 12 participant-specific and clinical characteristics, and further suggested that adult patients with chronic low back pain may benefit from OMT regardless of their demographic characteristics or health status.  

“As an aspiring orthopedic surgeon, I was really excited about this project because chronic back pain is so prevalent and often difficult to manage,” Fix said. “Our study shows that OMT can improve pain intensity, pain impact, disability and quality of life-related to chronic low back pain. As osteopathic physicians, we will have such a powerful tool right at our fingertips to help our future patients.”   

There are more than 134,000 osteopathic physicians in the United States. The Osteopathic Research Center was established in 2002 to serve as the profession-wide center for research involving OMT and other health policy issues pertaining to osteopathic medicine. 

“From the beginning, when I was fortunately accepted into the PRECISION Research Program, publication was our goal, and I was very excited to get published after two years of work on the project,” said TCOM student Samuel Moore. “The dedication from all members of our team was exceptional. Even with our difficult schedule, everyone was fully committed to our goal of a publication and put in so much work to reach it. Our mentor, Dr. Licciardone, led us throughout the project, and he believed in our project’s potential early on in its development. His continued encouragement was paramount and helped us to realize our goal.” 

The full text of the article can be found here. To learn more about the Osteopathic Research Center or PRECISION Pain Research Registry, please contact Cathy Kearns at or 817-735-0515. 

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