Anatomy is a foundational discipline in the training of health care professionals. However, there is a paucity of literature on the relative importance of anatomy, especially in relation to the other biomedical sciences and clinical domains, in preparing osteopathic practitioners for clinical practice. This study aimed to examine Australian osteopathic practitioners’ perceptions of the relative importance of anatomy in their professional training and clinical practice, especially in relation to other biomedical sciences and clinical domains within osteopathic curricula. The study also examined the perceived importance of the sub-disciplines of anatomy to professional practice. A questionnaire-based survey was carried out among Australian osteopathic practitioners at several national meetings in 2014 and 2015. Using a five-point Likert scale, all respondents were asked to rate the relevance of the following thirteen disciplines and sub- disciplines to clinical practice: biomechanics, biochemistry, embryology, histology, gross anatomy, microbiology, neuroanatomy, neurology, pathology, pharmacology, physical examination, physiology and radiology. Out of 175 practitioners surveyed, 169 responded (i.e., 96.6 % response rate). Two of the sub-disciplines of anatomy were among the highest rated, with 98.2 % perceiving gross anatomy as “very important” while neuroanatomy being rated as “very important” by 84.6 % and “quite important” by 14.2 %. Similar high rating was also given to biomechanics and physical examination while the other two sub-disciplines, embryology and histology received lower ratings. No significant difference in ratings were identified with regard to participants’ year and place of graduation. However, there was an association between gender and rating on Pathology and Pharmacology respectively, as well as age effects on the ratings of several sub-disciplines. These findings are generally consistent with the results from similar surveys carried out on the clinical importance of anatomy in other medical and allied health professionals in different countries. Overall, osteopathic practitioners have a positive perception of the relevance of anatomy, particularly gross and neuroanatomy, to clinical practice, and this should be taken into account when developing osteopathic curricula.
KEY WORDS: Anatomy; Osteopathy; Education; Curriculum development.