Life + Career Osteopathic Research Research Focus Areas

Research Focus Areas

Broad scope

Funding supports osteopathic research in four main focus areas

Designated topics address the tenets of osteopathic medicine and explore the profession's patient-centered, empathic approach to care.

The AOA has identified four RFAs in three overall areas of foci approved by the AOA Board of Trustees to help focus funding opportunities and develop collaborative research studies. These categories reflect the concept that while OMM/OMT remains a strong tradition of the osteopathic profession, osteopathic medicine encompasses a broader philosophy that includes patient-centered care, empathy, and the mind/body/spirit approach. The osteopathic philosophy embraces an approach that, while seeking and promoting health, also addresses disease states and the spectrum of patient care (e.g., primary, secondary, and tertiary).

Learn how to apply for funding.

NOTE: The AOA no longer funds basic science research projects. AOA-funded research will address the tenets of osteopathic medicine and advance the distinctiveness of the osteopathic profession through patient-focused research projects.

#1: Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine and Treatment on the Prevention and Management of Musculoskeletal Injuries | View RFA

Proposals in response to this RFA should improve the scientific basis of the mechanics and impact of Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (OMM) and Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT) on the prevention and management of musculoskeletal injuries through clinical or interventional research. Proposals should show clear relevance in one of the two following areas:

  • Use of OMM/OMT for vestibular problems and/or fall prevention.
  • Use of OMM/OMT in concussions, either mechanistic, efficacy, clinically or biologically relevant outcome measures such as cognition, recovery time, biomarkers, lymphatic drainage, and functional MRI.

#2: Acute/Chronic Pain Management | View RFA

Proposals in response to this RFA should explore the osteopathic approaches to acute and chronic pain management, emphasizing treatments and patient outcomes. Proposals should address one or more of the following:

  • The role of OMM/OMT, as well as other osteopathic modalities such as touch and communication in surgical recovery.
  • The role of the effects of OMM/OMT on reducing opioid prescribing (consumption). Studies should measure acute pain control.
  • The identification and investigation of the role of biomarkers in substantiating that OMT works mechanistically on patients and defining how biomarkers can be used as a more reliable measurement of pain reduction than using traditional pain scales.

#3: The Impact of the Osteopathic Approach on Chronic Disease and Elderly Care | View RFA

Proposals in response to this RFA should explore the impact of the osteopathic approach on chronic disease and elderly care through clinical or interventional research. Some examples of relevant topics include:

  • Apply the osteopathic approach to dementia, incontinence, falling, polypharmacy, Congestive Heart Failure (CHF), Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Diabetes Mellitus, Degenerative Joint Disease, Malnutrition, Sensory Deprivation, Cardiovascular Disease, Stroke, Depression, Parkinson’s Disease, etc.
  • Demonstrate the distinctiveness of osteopathic care to the elderly.
  • Cost-effectiveness of osteopathic care to the elderly.

#4: OMM Observational & Explorative Research Studies | View RFA

Proposals in response to this RFA should be observational/explorative studies which address one of 14 research hypotheses designed to investigate the successful effects of Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (OMM) on specific diseases. The investigator should only choose one of the research hypotheses.

NOTE: Please do not submit an application if the project does not address one of the research hypotheses.


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