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Advertising

The information you provide to patients on your website, in practice literature, and via social media, service directories and marketing material must comply with the Osteopathic Practice Standards.

What the Osteopathic Practice Standards say

The guidance to Standard D14 of the Osteopathic Practice Standards says:

‘You should make sure that your advertising is legal, decent, honest and truthful as defined by the ASA, and conforms to the current guidance, such as the CAP Code.’

The Advertising Standards Authority

In the UK, all advertising is governed by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). Osteopaths must comply with the ASA’s requirements, as set out in the British Code of Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (CAP Code).

Guidance on the Committee for Advertising Practice website

The Committee for Advertising Practice (CAP) produces the advertising code that all UK advertisers must adhere to. The ASA ensures that advertisers comply with the CAP Code.

As an osteopath and a regulated health professional, it is your responsibility to ensure your marketing information, including website content, entries in service directories, posters, practice leaflets and social media promotions, all conform with the ASA’s standards.

What can I say on my website?

If you are developing a practice website you need to be aware of the guidance in paragraph 2, standard D 14, of the Osteopathic Practice Standards, which is about advertising and publicity. This advises that information on your website needs to meet the requirements of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), including the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (CAP code).

In particular, the ASA sets out the conditions which it believes osteopaths may say they can help and not adhering to this guidance may give rise to complaints about your website or other patient information being made to the ASA by members of the public.

Standard D 14, guidance paragraph 2 also says that any publicity must be factual and not mislead patients.

Evidence

Osteopaths should ensure they have a good understanding of the evidence that underpins the advice they give patients. The National Council for Osteopathic Research (NCOR) website is a rich resource of information regarding evidence relating to osteopathic practice, and includes evidence summaries. Osteopaths also have free access to a range of research journals in the IJOM Plus package.

ASA guidance on advertising claims about treating babies, children and pregnant women

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has been working closely with the osteopathic profession to produce new guidance about advertising claims that relate to the treatment of babies, children and pregnant women. The guidance – Osteopathy: ASA Review and Guidance for Marketing Claims for Pregnant Women, Children and Babies – has been sent by the GOsC to all osteopaths on the UK Register. Registrants have been strongly advised to review the information provided on practice websites and other publicity material to ensure their advertising complies with the ASA standards. 
Read the ASA guidance and joint letter to osteopaths from the GOsC and ASA/CAP.