The Osteopathic Clinical Practice Assessment: a pilot study to develop a new workplace-based assessment tool

Document Type


Publication details

Vaughan, B & Moore, K 2015, 'The Osteopathic Clinical Practice Assessment: a pilot study to develop a new workplace-based assessment tool', International Journal of Osteopathic Medicine, vol. 18, no. 4, pp. 287-296.

Article available on Open Access

Peer Reviewed




It is widely recognised that multiple forms of assessment are required in order to make decisions about learner competency and fitness-to-practice. One assessment tool that is gaining popularity in the Australian allied health professions is the global clinical competency assessment. These tools are designed to assess learner performance across a range of areas required for professional practice, with the assessment typically performed at the end of a ‘block’ clinical placement. There is no literature on their use in osteopathy longitudinal placements.


To explore the applicability of an adaptation of the Assessment of Physiotherapy Practice in an osteopathic context. The study presents pilot data and discussion about the adaptation of a workplace-based assessment tool – the Osteopathic Clinical Practice Assessment (OCPA).


Evaluation of the OCPA using data from multiple administrations.


Osteopathic on-campus, student-led teaching clinic at one Australian university.


Clinical Educators completed the OCPA for learners during weeks 5 and 12 of a 12 week semester. Descriptive statistics were generated for the data. The Wilcoxon signed rank test was used to investigate differences between the week 5 and 12 ratings. Cronbach's alpha was used to assess the internal consistency and Spearman's coefficient used to assess the relationship between the total OCPA score and global rating.


The OCPA was completed by 12 Clinical Educators assessing 31 learners in year 4 of the program.


Learners were rated, on average, at the ‘expected level’ at each of the two time points. This was consistent for both the OCPA items and the global rating contained on the OCPA. Cronbach's alpha was 0.822 and Spearman's coefficient was 0.59 suggesting a ‘large’ relationship between the total OCPA score and the global rating.


There is a clear need for the OCPA to be used in conjunction with other assessment tools in order to make learner progress and fitness-to-practice decisions. Data suggest if learners are assessed at two or more different time points (across a longitudinal placement) changes need to be considered in the rating scale used on the OCPA in order to more clearly demonstrate learner progression. The OCPA could be used as a formative assessment tool in osteopathy with an adjustment to the current rating scale. In its current format caution should be applied if it is to be used as a summative tool as we do not have data supporting its use for this purpose. At present we cannot make any further arguments about the ability of the OCPA results to be extrapolated and make reliable and defensible decisions as there are no data correlating it with other performance assessments nor data supporting its reliability. This will be the subject of future research.

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