Home' OsteoLife : OsteoLife Spring 2015 Contents 20 Osteopathy Australia
arlier this year, the Osteopathy Board of Australia consulted
with us on a proposed advertising bulletin that significantly
changes the obligations of what you are required to
do as osteopaths to advertise. Osteopathy Australia
lobbied stridently and successfully to achieve some substantive
improvements to the early drafts—the goalposts haven’t moved
quite as far as originally proposed—but you must comply with the
released Advertising Bulletin as it was published in June. (You can
read our various submissions and a statement about the OBA’s new
Advertising Bulletin on our website at the Advocacy page.)
We understand this new bulletin means that practitioners of all
professions, including osteopathy, must review their advertising once
again. The Bulletin has important consequences for you and your
advertising. For some osteopaths, it will require significant changes in
the claims you make and the way you advertise your services. Complaints
lodged against you will be evaluated using the new bulletin.
The statutory requirement making it an offense to advertise a regulated
health service in a way that is false, misleading, or deceptive (or is likely
to be misleading or deceptive) is unchanged.
What’s new in the OBA’s June Bulletin is information and examples
about what is acceptable and unacceptable advertising.
What’s acceptable and unacceptable,
according to the oba?
1. Be very careful using the word 'cure'. What the OBA says:
“It is unacceptable to state that osteopathic treatment or a particular
osteopathic approach can cure any condition. Not all improvement
can necessarily be attributed to osteopathic treatment, relapses
frequently occur and the response to treatment varies considerably
from individual to individual.”
2. Only use the words 'can help' or 'can improve' if you have
“substantive or good evidence” for this claim. If you suggest
or posit or claim the existence of evidence, you may be asked
to provide it. What the OBA says: “Where there is substantive or
good quality evidence that osteopathic treatment can help certain
conditions, it is acceptable to state something like ‘osteopathic
treatment or a particular osteopathic approach can help/improve
these conditions’. In circumstances where there is limited or
inconclusive evidence, it is acceptable to state that osteopathic
treatment or a particular osteopathic approach may/might help or
improve certain conditions.
3. Be very careful using the word 'safe'. What the OBA says:
“It is acceptable to state something like ‘osteopathic treatment is
generally considered safe but occasionally it may cause adverse
reactions in some people’. It is unacceptable to state that osteopathic
treatment or a particular osteopathic approach is safe without also
acknowledging that all forms of osteopathic treatment have the
potential for adverse reactions."
4. Be very careful using the word 'effective'. What the OBA
says: “Where there is substantive or good-quality evidence that
osteopathic treatment can help certain conditions, it is acceptable
to state something like ‘osteopathic treatment or a particular
osteopathic approach has been shown to be effective for the
treatment of these conditions’. Where there is limited or inconclusive
evidence that osteopathic treatment has been shown to be effective
in the management of certain conditions, it is acceptable to state
something like ‘osteopathic treatment or a particular osteopathic
approach may be effective in the management of certain conditions’.
5. Be very careful using words 'non-invasive', especially if you
use needling. What the OBA says: “It is unacceptable to use these
words in relation to the advertising of internal techniques, intra-oral
techniques or needling procedures.”
What about Your code of conduct dutY
to practise “safelY and effectivelY”?
Osteopathy Australia has pointed out the paradox of the OBA limiting
your use of the words safe and effective while its Code of Conduct
states in the first paragraph that you have a “duty to [...] practise safely
It seems to Osteopathy Australia that if you must practise in a safe
and effective way, there should be few problems advertising that you
indeed do so. However, we play no direct regulatory role, and what the
OBA publishes must be complied with.
Our role consists in helping you to understand and comply with the
OBA’s decisions, and sometimes this involves conveying and explaining
rules we think are sub-optimal. This is one of those occasions.
What about the costs involved in
changing Your advertising?
We have also brought to the OBA’s attention the regulatory cost,
including dollar cost, involved in having the entire nation’s practitioner
workforce review and amend its advertising. Because of this, the
Bulletin says you will have “a reasonable transition period” to fix up
print and electronic advertising.
However, we anticipate that reviewing and changing the wording of
websites, flyers, leaflets, patient information sheets, signage,
The responsibilities of osteopaths
when advertising have changed.
“WE UNDERSTAND THIS
NEW BULLETIN MEANS THAT
PRACTITIONERS OF ALL
OSTEOPATHY, must revieW their
advertising ONCE AGAIN.”
21/09/2015 12:05 pm
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