SCCO Research

Since the turn of the century the public, the osteopathic profession and other healthcare professionals have been asking for more research into the cranial concept in osteopathy. Although osteopaths and public alike were passionate about this therapeutic approach, there are relatively few scientific papers about it. Encouraging a culture of research became a priority for the SCCO Board of Trustees in order to further our understanding of our work, for the benefit of the profession and the public.

In 2007 the SCCO Board formed a new subcommittee, the Research Subcommittee (RSC), charged with undertaking research in this field. This committee was originally chaired by Colin Dove, (the SCCO President), and Clive Hayden became chairman in 2011. The research subcommittee have been active in a number of different ways as outlined below. 

Research Education

The SCCO is committed to encouraging a research culture, to educate qualified osteopaths on its use in practice and education, and is constantly working to embed aspects of research within the Pathway courses.

For osteopathic students. Current teaching practice within the undergraduate osteopathic colleges encourages students to support those osteopathic approaches that have established an evidential base. Lectures and tutors on all SCCO courses are encouraged to reference and support the material that they are using with recent evidence.

For osteopaths in practice. Osteopaths who have been in practice for some years would benefit from education in how to embrace the research culture. The SCCO runs research events with this in mind.

Research Projects

The RSC has developed an affordable model of new research to study aspects of our work, or test out clinical results of treatment.

Data Collection Project

In 2010, the SCCO commissioned and funded its first research project. This data collection exercise used a questionnaire developed by the National Council for Osteopathic Research (NCOR) – a Standardised Data Collection form. The aim was to find out more about the day-to-day practice of osteopaths who use the cranial approach, as very little data exists about this. A comparison could then be made with the data available from a previous survey conducted on the general osteopathic profession.

Data gathered will help both the profession and the public to understand why patients seek cranial osteopathy.

Here are some of the results:

  • Most patients seek cranial osteopathy as they are seeking a more gentle form of treatment.
  • Osteopaths working in this field often use general osteopathic techniques alongside cranial osteopathic techniques.
  • The number of treatments needed to treat patients is broadly similar to general osteopathy.
  • Cranial osteopaths do treat the more common symptoms that people present with such as back or neck pain but they also treat more children and those presenting with headaches.

The results (in September 2013) have been accepted and published by the International Journal for Osteopathic Medicine. A summary of the project and its conclusions can be found here and the full report here

Infantile Colic Research Project

In 2012 Infantile colic was chosen as the next SCCO research project. There were several reasons for this:

  • It is one of the main reason parents seek to have their children treated by a cranial osteopath.
  • There was at the time a lot of public interest in the validity of the approach with regard to infantile colic.
  • There was already some evidence to support its use and it was felt that having a body of evidence that built of what currently existed would be the best use of resources and give the most benefit to the public.

 A team from the European School of Osteopathy was appointed to undertake the research and it is currently underway.

 This project has been partially funded by the SCCO, with a contribution from the Sutherland Society. Further fundraising is underway to complete the funding for this project.

 Collecting and accessing existing research

 The Research subcommittee has been working to identify and access existing research worldwide in the osteopathic profession.


Research Conference 'Hidden Treasure'

For this Conference we have scrutinised the dissertations written by osteopaths of British and European colleges for BSc, MSC and PhD qualifications, and asked the authors of some of the most interesting works to share their results at our conference. We are encouraging these speakers to share with us how they have developed and furthered their osteopathic skills through the work they have done, and to show us in practical sessions some of the techniques that they have used. This will enable the delegates to gain a much deeper understanding of the research work and how it can benefit their clinical practice.

Members of the college are eligible for preferential membership rates with the Royal Society of Medicine, which provided access to specific research training courses and access to medical research databases.


Jane Stark - Validating Palpation in Research.  
Jane Stark - A.T. Still’s Fascia.
Ute Schneider Milo - Osteopathic manual treatment in women with endometriosis related pain.
Gunn Kvivik – Breastfeeding and its Influence on the Infant Skull.
Frank Scheuchl – Osteopathic Treatment in Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Bruno DuCoux – Training Palpation: The Osteopathic case.
Carol Palmer – Sham Treatment and Controls in Research.
Caspar Hull – The Reticular Formation and Central Sensitisation: An Osteopathic Perspective.
Clive Hayden – The SCCO Data Collection Study.
Anne Jaekel – Cranial Osteopathy and Infantile Colic Study update.

All these Videos can be seen here.

If you have a strong interest in osteopathic research and would like to become involved in the research work of the college, please contact us.