Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Osteopathic International Alliance (OIA)?
The Osteopathic International Alliance (OIA) was formed in 2004 as an organization of osteopathic organizations representing osteopathic physicians, MD physicians who train in osteopathic philosophy and practice, and osteopaths. The Alliance was created to bring together the global osteopathic profession for strategic goals benefiting there professionals and their patients.
What is the mission and vision of the OIA?

Our mission is to encourage systems of education and regulation which will ensure high standards for safe and effective health care from osteopaths and osteopathic physicians. Our vision is to ensure that every person worldwide has access to high-quality osteopathic healthcare. Read more about our core values here.

What are the goals of the OIA?

Read about our strategic initiatives here.

What is Osteopathic Healthcare?

Osteopathic healthcare is a patient-centered holistic approach to health care that recognizes the importance of the relationship between the structure of the body and the way it functions. Osteopathic physicians and osteopaths use palpation and manual techniques to influence muscles, joints, nerves, connective tissue, circulation, and internal organs to support the body’s ability to restore and maintain health.

Osteopathy/Osteopathic Medicine is complementary to general practice medicine in the context of integrated patient care which is focused upon both evidence-informed and patient-centered approaches. Manual palpation and osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) are used in conjunction with biomechanical, orthopaedic and neurological clinical assessment. For more information, please download one of our brochures.

Does the OIA support both streams (osteopath and osteopathic physician) of the osteopathic profession?


Who are the current member organizations of the OIA?

The OIA represents 78 organizations from 20 countries on five continents. For a full organizational listing, please see our Member Listing Page.

Who can join the OIA?

The OIA is an Alliance of osteopathic organizations. Associations and institutions around the world that educate, employ, assist, or organize osteopathic professionals are eligible for membership.

We currently do not offer individual memberships.

What are the different levels of membership within the OIA?

The OIA includes the following categories of members: Full, Associate, and Partner. Those seeking membership must be recommended by the Board and ratified by the Full Members.

  1. Full Members
    Osteopathic organizations from any country where Osteopathic Physicians and/or Osteopaths are recognized as (a) distinct profession(s) and (b) regulated by law.  In countries where there are multiple legally recognised organizations, the organization representing the most professionals (osteopathic physicians or osteopaths) in that country shall be considered for full member status. Alternatively, OIA membership can be shared by a coalition of eligible organizations who formally agree to collaborate. The possibility of adding more members to the coalition will be reviewed at the previously scheduled time of review of the original member(s) unless the board specifies otherwise.
  2. Associate Members
    Established or emerging organizations from any country where Osteopathic Physicians and/or Osteopaths are working towards governmental recognition and the legal establishment of the Osteopathic profession and full membership in the OIA.
  3. Partner Members
    Defined as organizations/institutions with goals and objectives that are consistent with those of the OIA, but who do not meet the criteria of Full or Associate Membership.
How does an organization become a member of the OIA?

Visit our page, Applying for Membership, to learn how your organization can join the OIA.

What does the OIA have to offer an organization that is working to develop the osteopathic profession within their country?

The OIA provides information and documentation about models of osteopathic education, training, accreditation, regulation, and safe practices. We have developed a brochure to assist with education about the osteopathic profession and the Global Osteopathic Reports provide details and examples of existing models of both streams of the profession and how they function within national health delivery systems across a range of countries. We also support member organizations with a variety of issues, such as letters of support to governments considering regulation and to insurance providers questioning payment for osteopathic treatments.

Membership in the OIA can facilitate connections and exchanges between members seeking regulation with those who have already achieved it in order to shorten their process and advise on best practices. You can also participate in our annual conferences where member organizations can meet each other face to face and exchange information about successes and pitfalls when working to further the profession in their country.

The OIA also celebrates World Osteopathic Healthcare Week annually by developing a social media toolkit that members can use to raise awareness about the profession among regulators and the public.

Why should I as an individual osteopath or osteopathic physician be concerned about being part of a global profession? What is in it for me?

Each of us practices in a social and political context. Over the years, the osteopathic profession has gained recognition and regulation in more countries. This leads to greater awareness among the public and therefore greater utilization of osteopathic healthcare. The stronger the “brand recognition” of the osteopathic profession becomes worldwide, the better the recognition will become in individual countries and for individual practitioners.

As an individual, how can I get involved?

The OIA is an organization of organizations, so the best avenue for engagement is to work through one of our Full, Associate, or Partner member organizations. Please refer to our membership organizations page to learn if there is already a member organization from your country.

The OIA is a working group, not a political status organization. If you have an interest you can be involved through your member organization and by attending annual conferences.

What are the WHO Benchmarks for Training in Osteopathy?

The World Health Organization Benchmarks for Training in Osteopathy is a publication that serves as an important political step towards worldwide acceptance and integration of the osteopathic profession into national healthcare systems. The WHO Benchmarks helps to advance the WHO’s vision of integrated health care combining conventional medical care and traditional or complementary/alternative medicine and was a precursor to the Global Osteopathic Reports (which were developed as a collaboration between the OIA and WHO).

What is the (upcoming) WHO Glossary of Osteopathic Terminology?

OIA’s current collaborative work plan with the WHO includes the development of a global Glossary of Osteopathic Terminology. To accomplish this task, the OIA established a Glossary Task Force comprised of osteopath and osteopathic physician representatives from various countries, to discuss and recommend terms and definitions for worldwide use.

A universal Glossary will help inform planned revisions to the WHO Benchmarks, advance understanding and establishment of the profession in various countries, and facilitate continuity of osteopathic healthcare for patients worldwide.

What are the OIA Global Osteopathic Reports?

The Global Osteopathic Reports include the Status Report on Osteopathy (PDF), a 2012 document that presents the landscape of osteopathy and osteopathic medicine worldwide. The OIA developed this report with input from our member organizations and the World Health Organisation. It is intended to accompany the WHO Benchmarks and provide further details about the profession, covering the following topics:

  • Osteopathy/osteopathic medicine in its historical and current context
  • Osteopathic core competencies
  • Existing regulatory models
  • Educational standards worldwide

Another report, “Osteopathy and Osteopathic Medicine: A Global View of Practice, Patients, Education and the Contribution to Healthcare Delivery,” describes the current state of the osteopathic profession globally and how it functions within national health delivery systems across a range of countries. The report builds upon the Status Report on Osteopathy and is presented in four parts:

  • The history and spread of osteopathic healthcare
  • Practitioners and Patients
  • Models of education and training
  • The efficacy, safety, and cost-effectiveness of osteopathic healthcare

Download the Global Reports here.

How would a person or organization utilize the OIA Global Osteopathic Reports?

The document can be used to explain the profession to those unfamiliar with it, but also to assist with fostering recognition of the profession with health and governmental authorities. See more on the Global Reports page.

Are there any documents that outline osteopathic competencies and capabilities?

While specific capabilities expected of an osteopath or osteopathic physician vary internationally, there are some universal characteristics. This information is available in the Status Report on Osteopathy and Annex 4.

What are some current statutory systems governing the practice of the osteopathic profession?

Osteopathy and osteopathic medicine are currently regulated by law in a number of countries; while variations exist, all laws aim to protect the public by ensuring anyone using the term ‘osteopath’ is registered with the relevant authority.

Links to the relevant national legislation and regulatory authorities are located in the Status Report on Osteopathy and Annex 5.

What kind of education do osteopaths and osteopathic physicians receive?

In all of the countries in which the osteopathic profession is regulated by law, it is a graduate profession. Some programs of study are delivered by departments in state-funded universities or institutes of technology. Others are in smaller, specialist autonomous colleges, many of which existed for many years on a private, charitably funded basis before entering formal academic relationships with national organizations or local universities. Educational programs follow a variety of configurations, and each national system has its own recognized qualification with ‘RQ’ status. Details and sample curricula are available in the Status Report on Osteopathy and Annex 6.

What are some current osteopathic accreditation models?

A national system of accreditation of educational programs exists in the majority of countries in which the practice of osteopathy or osteopathic medicine is regulated by statute. The models in those countries reflect the prevailing legislative and educational environments.

In general, accreditation of professional education programs works alongside existing institutional and national quality assurance mechanisms; these systems provide for periodic inspection and accreditation of programs against a published set of educational standards and graduate profiles that must be demonstrably attained and maintained. A system of annual reporting by accredited institutions is common. This information is available in the Status Report on Osteopathy and Annex 7.

Are there any resources available that address safety in Osteopathy/Osteopathic Medicine?

There is substantial evidence that osteopathic manipulation is a safe, effective, and conservative means of treatment. More information is available in the Status Report on Osteopathy and Annex 8.

Are there any resources available that define osteopathic terminology?

The OIA is currently working towards a worldwide Glossary of Osteopathic Terminology as part of our collaborations with the WHO. The best existing resource for defining osteopathic terminology is the AACOM Glossary of Osteopathic Terminology. More information can be found within the Status Report on Osteopathy.

Where can I find out more about the OIA and its members’ upcoming events?

Please visit our Events Page.

What are the past events that have involved the OIA?

Please visit our Past Conferences & AGMs page to see agenda, presentations, and meeting notes from previous OIA conferences.

What is the relationship between the OIA and the WHO?

The OIA began work with the World Health Organisation in 2004. The OIA worked with the WHO to develop the Guidelines on Basic Training in Osteopathy, which would eventually become the Benchmarks for Training in Osteopathy, and held an Osteopathic Consultation with experts from around the globe in 2007.

Following the publication of the Benchmarks in 2010, the OIA continued their working relationship with the WHO and held a consultation meeting following their 2012 Paris Conference. Following the publication of the Status Report on Osteopathy in March 2012 and the Paris Conference, the OIA published Osteopathy and Osteopathic Medicine: A Global View of Practice, Patients, Education and the Contribution to Healthcare Delivery, with input and a forward from the WHO.

In 2018 the OIA was admitted into official relations with the WHO.

In order to maintain our official relations status, every three years, the OIA executes a collaborative plan with the WHO outlining our joint projects and deliverables.

Does the OIA provide info I can share with my patients to educate them about the profession?

Yes, a brochure has been created for this purpose and is available here in seven languages.

Who are the current Board of Directors and Staff?

The Board is made up of ten members who have been nominated to this position by member organizations. Information about the current Board can be found here.

The OIA is staffed by Secretariat Raine Richards, JD (

Can my organization or I use the OIA logo?

The OIA logo is trademarked and use is not permitted without the express, prior written permission of the OIA. Permission for the use of the OIA logo is at the absolute discretion of the OIA and will be given for a specific use only. The OIA logo may be used by its member organizations in communication materials (electronic or paper) to indicate that the organization is a member of OIA. The OIA logo should not be used in any way that suggests that the OIA endorses the policies, other work or services provided by a member organization. There is no entitlement for individuals associated with OIA members to use the OIA logo and we expect member organizations to monitor this within their membership.

Organizations wishing to use the logo promote the OIA’s work are advised to inquire with the OIA about the use. For any requests, please contact us at Include your name and contact information, plus a description of your proposed use of the logo (why you want to use the logo, where the logo would appear, the duration and geographical extent of the proposed use, how the OIA logo would be displayed relative to any other organization logo, and a mock-up or sample artwork of how you propose to use the OIA logo).

It is important to note that the logo cannot be altered, orientation or colors changed, or any other elements removed or added. If approval is granted, you will be sent formal written authorization with any conditions on use described.

How do I contact the OIA?


Direct postal mail:

Osteopathic International Alliance

142 E. Ontario St, Second Floor

Chicago, IL 60611 USA