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Bowen and Research

Although the Bowen Technique is relatively new to the UK, the technique has proved itself as a highly efficient and cost-effective tool for physiotherapists, chiropractors, osteopaths and other CAM practitioners. A recent study on the evaluation of the Bowen Technique in the treatment of Frozen Shoulder reviewed in ‘Complementary Therapies in Medicine’ Issue 01/032, ‘Health Which’ (July 2002) and Complementary Therapies in Nursing and Midwifery undertaken by Dr Bernie Carter, principal lecturer in Children’s Nursing at the University of Central Lancashire found:

  • ‘A high level of satisfaction with the therapy, a commitment to using Bowen in the future should they require it for another episode of frozen shoulder or other condition, and the intention to recommend the therapy and therapist to friends and family’
  • ‘A significant improvement in shoulder mobility and associated function for all participants, with 70% of participants regaining full mobility (equal to the non-affected side) by the end of the treatment.’
  • ‘Markedly reduced pain intensity scores and pain quality descriptors for all participants, although some participants recorded scores of 1-3 that they described as a slight ache to a mild pain. Participants at the end of the study no longer used the intense and invasive pain descriptors.’

The Bowen Technique cannot, from this study, claim to be 100% successful but it demonstrated a significant improvement for participants, even those with a very longstanding history of frozen shoulder. For the majority of participants it provided a good outcome particularly in relation to improved mobility.

All participants experienced improvement in their daily activities. None of the participants reported that their pain was having a severe impact on their daily activities, and there was a decrease in the reports of mild and moderate impact by the end of the treatment. For the majority of participants (even those with a longstanding problem) it provided a good outcome particularly in relation to improved mobility.

In terms of the outcome measures used in other studies – success rate, mobility, pain and functional status – Bowen can be seen to be a positive intervention and certainly one which participants in the study evaluated as being highly satisfactory.

To date there have two RCT trials into the effectiveness of the Bowen Technique and numerous small scale studies:

Overview of research into the Bowen Technique

RCT Study on the effectiveness of the Bowen Technique in pre and post-operative knee surgery

Large-scale study by Occupational Health into the health benefits of Bowen

RCT Study on Hamstring Flexibility

There are currently 10 instructors in the UK who have been accredited by the Bowen Therapy Academy of Australia, by far the largest and longest-established Bowen teaching organisation in the world having trained over 9000 therapists.

Bowen Association teachers are currently teaching the technique in many European countries including the Republic of Ireland, Spain, Italy, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Belgium and France.

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