New UCLA-led research suggests that patient mortality rates, likelihood of readmission, length of stay and cost of care were virtually identical for elderly hospitalized patients who were treated by physicians with doctor of medicine degrees versus those who were treated by physicians with doctor of osteopathic medicine degrees.

While both traditional, or allopathic, medical schools and osteopathic medical schools provide the same rigorous health education, osteopathic training adds a more holistic, hands-on component involving manipulation of the musculoskeletal system — for instance, the use of stretching and massage to reduce pain or improve mobility.

“These findings offer reassurance to patients by demonstrating that they can expect high-quality care regardless of whether their physicians received their training from allopathic or osteopathic medical schools,” said Dr. Yusuke Tsugawa, the paper’s senior author and an associate professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. 

The study examined Medicare data for 329,510 patients, of whom 77% were treated by M.D.s and 23% were treated by osteopathic physicians.

The study is published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Read the full news release on the UCLA Health website.