Consumer Survey Fact Sheet

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Massage Therapy for Regular Health Maintenance

For the second year in a row, 75 percent of individuals surveyed claim their primary reason for receiving a massage in the previous 12 months was medical (43 percent) and stress (32 percent) related, according to the 17th annual consumer survey sponsored by the American Massage Therapy Association® (AMTA®). Medical reasons include pain relief, soreness, stiffness or spasms, injury recovery, migraines, prevention, and general well-being.

  • 88 percent of individuals view massage as beneficial to overall health and wellness.
  • 88 percent of consumers surveyed believe that massage can be effective in reducing pain; with 24 percent of respondents stating they have used massage therapy for pain relief.
  • The overall mean (excluding none) was 4.1 massages for those receiving massage in past 12 months.
  • Those whose primary reason for getting massage was medical got a mean of 5.7 massages.
  • Overall mean (excluding none) was 10.7 massages for those receiving massage in past 5 years. Those whose primary reason for getting massage was medical got a mean of 13.4 massages.

Americans’ Reasons for Getting Massages Are Changing

Instead of seeking massage therapy solely for relaxation and pampering purposes, individuals clearly are turning to massage therapy to assist with medical conditions.

  • As few as 34 percent of individuals believe massage therapy is only a form of pampering.
  • In the previous 12 months, 17 percent of respondents received a massage at a spa compared to 19 percent in 2012. This decline, and the presence of chiropractor’s offices, health clubs and physician’s offices/medical clinics on the list of locations where people receive massage, indicates consumers identify massage as an important component of overall health and wellness.
  • 56 percent of people have received a massage for one or more of the following reasons: soreness, stiffness or spasms, to relieve or manage stress, for prevention or to improve quality of life, injury recovery or rehabilitation, to keep fit or healthy/maintain wellness, or to control headaches or migraines. This compares to 50 percent of respondents in the 2011 study.
  • 39 percent of respondents indicated that medical benefits would be their primary motivation for having a massage.  A lower number of respondents said relaxation/stress reduction or pampering would be their motivation to receive a massage; 31 percent and 14 percent, respectively.

Health Care Providers Recommending Massage as a Viable Form of Treatment

Health care providers and doctors are more commonly viewing massage therapy as a legitimate option to address health concerns. Of consumers who discussed massage therapy with their doctors:

  • 14 percent were referred to a massage therapist by their doctor
  • 48 percent of respondents indicated that they were encouraged by their doctor to receive a massage.
  • 13 percent were told by their doctor that a massage might benefit them.

53 percent of respondents said their physician has recommended they get a massage.

How to Find a Professional Massage Therapist

Finding a professional massage therapist is vital to a positive massage experience. AMTA massage therapists have demonstrated a level of ability through education and/or testing, adhere to a code of ethics and must meet continuing education requirements. AMTA offers a free professional massage therapist locator service at findamassagetherapist.org.

About the Survey Findings

The annual consumer survey was conducted by ORC International. This report presents the findings of a telephone survey conducted among two national probability samples, which, when combined, consists of 1,007 adults, 504 men and 503 women 18 years of age and older, living in the continental United States. 657 interviews were from the landline sample and 350 interviews from the cell phone sample. Interviewing for this Survey was completed on August 8-11, 2013.

About AMTA

The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) is the largest non-profit professional association representing the massage therapy profession. AMTA provides information about massage therapy to the public and works to improve the professional climate for massage therapists. The association also helps consumers and healthcare professionals locate professional massage therapists nationwide, through AMTA’s Find a Massage Therapist® free national locator service available at findamassagetherapist.org.

October 2013

© American Massage Therapy Association 2013 All rights reserved.
amtamassage.org® is a registered trademark of the American Massage Therapy Association

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Amy Z., AMTA member since 1999

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AMTA has long been the leading choice among massage therapists looking to establish themselves within the profession. We provide our members with the strongest benefits and promote massage therapy to the public and health care community.

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