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Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment Shown to Reduce Hospital Stay, Mortality Rates in Elderly Patients with Pneumonia

Study Published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association Finds OMT Plus Antibiotics Reduces Risk of Death for the Most Severely Ill Patients

By AOA Media Team


CHICAGO—August 29, 2016— An analysis of multicenter randomized controlled clinical trial found osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) for pneumonia reduced length of hospital stay in adults 50 to 74 years old and lowered in-hospital mortality rates for patients 75 and older. The study results published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

The study analyzed 375 patients ages 50 or older who were randomly assigned to three groups, either receiving OMT, a light touch or conventional care only. Differences between treatment groups were evaluated for subgroups of participants based on their age, Pneumonia Severity Index and type of pneumonia. The data were analyzed by intention-to-treat analysis of all participants and by per-protocol analysis of participants who finished the study without missing any protocol treatments.

Key findings by per-protocol analysis of the younger subgroup found that OMT decreased hospital stay by 1.1 days compared to those who received conventional care only. By intention-to-treat analysis of the older subgroup, in-hospital mortality rates were 11 percent lower to the conventional-care only group. OMT also reduced the in-hospital mortality rates of those with the highest severity of illness.

“Osteopathic manipulative therapy was developed in the pre-antibiotic era specifically for the management of pneumonia. While antibiotic therapy is the current standard of care, the emergence of resistant bacteria is a global threat and provides an incentive to explore adjunct treatments that can improve their efficacy,” said James Bailey, DO, assistant professor in physical medicine and rehabilitation at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine. “This study should encourage physicians to use their osteopathic techniques when treating older patients with pneumonia.”

Pneumonia is a leading cause of death for elderly patients, with over 90 percent of pneumonia-related deaths among those 65 and older. Previous studies have also shown that OMT can improve the efficacy of antibiotics in pneumonia patients.

Osteopathic manipulative techniques can help treat structural and tissue abnormalities, relieve joint restriction and misalignment, restore muscle and tissue balance and promote the overall movement blood flow throughout the body. When appropriate, it can complement, and in some cases replace, medications or surgery.

Open access to the full study is available until November 1, 2016: http://jaoa.org/article.aspx?articleid=2546793.

Disclosures: The basis for this analysis, The Multicenter Osteopathic Pneumonia Study in the Elderly (MOPSE) clinical trial, was funded by a consortium of foundations including the Foundation for Osteopathic Health Services. Please see the study for full details.

About The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association

The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association (JAOA) is the official scientific publication of the American Osteopathic Association. Edited by Robert Orenstein, DO, it is the premier scholarly peer-reviewed publication of the osteopathic medical profession. The JAOA’s mission is to advance medicine through the publication of peer-reviewed osteopathic research.


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Lauren Brush
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