The use and benefits of Craniosacral Therapy in primary health care : A prospective cohort study

Background: Patients frequently use treatments complementary to standard primary care. This prospective cohort-study examined the use, benefits, and safety of Craniosacral Therapy (CST).

Methods: Consecutive out-patients utilizing CST from 2015 to 2019 were asked to provide anonymized data on symptom intensity, functional disability, and quality of life before and after treatment using an adapted 11-point numerical rating scale (NRS) version of the Measure Yourself Medical Outcome Profile (MYMOP). Treatment expectations were assessed as were concurrent therapies/medication and safety. Mean differences were analyzed using paired sample t-tests with 95 % confidence intervals (CI), predictors of treatment response using linear regression modelling.

Results: CST therapists submitted 220 patient records (71.4 % female) including 15.5 % infants and toddlers, 7.7 % children, and 76.8 % adolescents and adults. Patients received on average 7.0 ± 7.3 CST sessions to treat 114 different, acute and chronic conditions. Symptom intensity significantly decreased by -4.38 NRS (95 %CI=-4.69/-4.07), disability by -4.41 NRS (95 %CI=-4.78/-4.05), and quality of life improved by 2.94 NRS (95 %CI = 2.62/3.27). Furthermore, CST enhanced personal resources by 3.10 NRS (95 %CI = 1.99/4.21). Independent positive predictors of change in the adapted total MYMOP score included patients' expectations (p = .001) and therapists' CST experience (p = .013), negative predictors were symptom duration (p < .002) and patient age (p = .021); a final categorical predictor was CST type (p = .023). Minor but no serious adverse events occurred.

Conclusions: In primary care, patients and parents of underage children use CST for preventive and therapeutic purposes. Considering the design limitations, CST appears to be overall effective and safe in infants, children, and adults.

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