Background: This study gives an update on the characteristics of Belgian osteopaths five years after the Benelux Osteosurvey. Additional new data were collected on their professional identity and views on the profession.
Methods: All Belgian osteopaths who could be contacted (n = 1473) were invited to complete a voluntary, online-based, closed-ended survey distributed between May and September 2018. The survey, composed of 52 questions and seven sections, was formally translated from English to Dutch and French and adapted from the original version. Adult, self-defined osteopaths working in Belgium were eligible. Recruitment of participants was performed through all professional associations and the InterMutualistic Agency. Descriptive statistics were used to analyse the data.
Results: The survey was completed by 332 osteopaths. Thirty-one per cent of the respondents were female. Almost all the respondents were self-employed (99.4%); half of them worked as part of a team (47.6%). Most respondents had a 5-year part-time training, and the majority had a previous academic degree, mainly in physical therapy (65.8%). According to respondents, most patients seek care for lumbar non-specific low back, pelvis and neck pain. Most respondents strongly define themselves as osteopaths and advertise themselves exclusively as osteopaths.
Conclusions: This survey provided an update of the current characteristics of Belgian osteopathic practitioners and added new information on their professional identity and views on the profession. The information provided could contribute to the body of evidence used by stakeholders and policymakers in the future regulation of the profession in Belgium.