An exploration of the experience of parents in the osteopathic treatment of their infants

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Gardner, Karen
Author ORCID Profiles (clickable)
Master of Osteopathy
Unitec Institute of Technology
Gasquoine, Susan
Niven, Elizabeth
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
parent experience
osteopathic medicine
phenomenological research
Gardner, K. (2011). An exploration of the experience of parents in the osteopathic treatment of their infants. A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Osteopathy, Unitec New Zealand.
AIM: The aim of this phenomenological study was to describe the experience of parents seeking and participating in the osteopathic treatment of their infants. BACKGROUND: Although there is some literature in the treatment of infants’ from a mother’s perspective, there is very little literature which combines both parents’ perspectives. METHODS: Parents of infants aged between 6 months and two years who had sought osteopathic treatment for their infant participated. Data was collected by in-depth interviews conducted in the family homes and workplaces of the participants. These interviews consisted of five interviews where three involved both parents and two involved individual parents. The resultant data were analyzed using van Manen’s (1997) hermeneutical phenomenological approach. RESULTS: Three phenomenological themes emerged from this study. From uncertainty and anxiousness, parents determined that something is not quite right and this influenced them to seek osteopathy. Parents found osteopathy through friends and family and their own previous experiences with osteopathy. Trust and communication within the triangular relationship between infants’, parents’ and osteopaths was most important in the positive outcomes of treatment. The Future requires a perception change from parents with regard to the scope of osteopathy. CONCLUSIONS: When presented with a situation of uncertainty, parents work through different stages of enquiry as how to best resolve their infant’s complaints. Osteopaths need to adapt their communication within this triangular relationship in order to build trusting therapeutic relationships. Community awareness and education in the osteopathic treatment of infants is paramount to ensure our infants’ future health.
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