Placebo and Touch in Osteopathy

Dates: 7 - 8 December 2019
Course leader: Francesco Cerritelli
Cost: £218 - £270

About the course

This course is designed to explore both theoretically and practically how osteopathic treatment can be applied to specific clinical conditions using an evidence-informed approach. This will be based on critical analysis of the latest published research relevant to osteopathy. More specifically we will discuss placebo, some neurological conditions, headaches and migraines, and chronic inflammatory conditions:

Placebo: We will discuss a recent systematic review that aimed to report how and what type of sham methods, dosage, operator characteristics, and patient types were used in osteopathic clinical trials and, eventually, assess sham clinical effectiveness with practical experiences.

Neurological conditions: We will study the effectiveness of osteopathy based on another recent systematic review.

Chronic inflammatory conditions: We will review the concept of inflammation in the light of current understanding of the biological mechanisms. We will compare the effectiveness of Osteopathic Manipulative Technique (OMT) with no treatment or sham therapy although scientific data remain elusive.

We will practice some procedures and approaches that can be used to treat patients with the pathologies discussed.


Summary of Osteopathic Practice Standards (updated) covered in this course

  • B) Knowledge, skills and performance - B1
  • C) Safety and quality in practice - C1


Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, participants will be able to:

  • Understand the concept of placebo and touch in the light of recent scientific evidence.
  • Develop osteopathic clinical competencies such as indirect and direct OMT based on available research, clinical evidence and plausible neuroscience models. 
  • Identify the key neurobiological elements to effectively treat and manage patients with a range of musculoskeletal and other diseases.


Course suitability

This course is suitable for osteopaths, physiotherapists and other manual therapists.

Course schedule

Day One

09:00  Registration

09:30  Welcome and introduction

09:45  What touch is about

10:30  Practical session #1

11:15  Coffee break

11:30  Practical session #2

12:30  Lunch

13:15  The fundamentals of placebo – theory

           The fundamentals of placebo – Practical session #3 - #4 - #5

15:30  Coffee break

15:45  Introduction to research: an evidence-based perspective  

           OMT and neurological diseases – theory - practical session #6 - #7

17:30  End of the day


Day Two

09:30  Welcome to Day 2 and Q&A from Day 1

09:45  OMT – headache (with focus on cervicogenic headache): theory and practice

11:15  Coffee break

11:30  Practical session #8

12:30  Lunch

13:15  OMT and chronic inflammatory diseases – theory

15:30  Coffee break

15:45  Practical session #9 - #10

17:30  End of the day

Recommended pre-reading

  • Cerritelli F, Chiacchiaretta P, Gambi F, Ferretti A. Effect of Continuous Touch on Brain Functional Connectivity Is Modified by the Operator's Tactile Attention. Front Hum Neurosci. 2017 Jul 20;11:368.
  • McGlone F, Cerritelli F, Walker S, Esteves J. The role of gentle touch in perinatal osteopathic manual therapy. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2017 Jan;72:1-9.
  • Cerritelli F, Ruffini N, Lacorte E, Vanacore N. Osteopathic manipulative treatment in neurological diseases: Systematic review of the literature. J Neurol Sci. 2016 Oct 15;369:333-41
  • Cerritelli F, Verzella M, Cicchitti L, D'Alessandro G, Vanacore N. The paradox of sham therapy and placebo effect in osteopathy: A systematic review. Medicine (Baltimore). 2016 Aug;95(35):e4728
  • Cicchitti L, Martelli M, Cerritelli F. Chronic inflammatory disease and osteopathy: a systematic review. PLoS One. 2015 Mar 17;10(3):e0121327

About the course leader

Dr Francesco Cerritelli is a neuroscientist and osteopath DO with broad interests in osteopathic and touch research, neuroscience and health science focusing on interdisciplinary aspects of evidence based medicine. Francesco has published several scientific papers in this field. In 2008 he founded the European Institute for Evidence Based Osteopathic Medicine (EBOM), a non-profit research association then transformed into a not-for-profit foundation named C.O.M.E. Collaboration in 2014. Between 2009 and 2014 Francesco was appointed head of research at A.I.O.T. and was assigned to teach neuroscience in the same institution. In 2011 Francesco attended the Master in Public Health course at Imperial College London and in 2018 obtained a PhD in Neuroscience at university of Chieti-Pescara focusing on fMRI and the interoceptive aspect of osteopathy.

Francesco has received several international prizes in relation to the scientific activities conducted.

Cancellation policy

The UCO regrets that no refunds can be made for cancelled places unless a substitute participant can be found. The UCO cannot guarantee that any course will run. In the event of your course being cancelled, all paid fees and deposits will be refunded in full.