2001 Massage Therapy Consumer Survey Fact Sheet


2001 Massage Therapy Consumer Survey Fact Sheet

Following are findings of a survey conducted by Opinion Research Corporation International, Princeton, NJ, and commissioned by the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA). The survey was conducted July 26-29, 2001 among a national probability sample of 1,000 adults (501 men and 499 women) ages 18 and older, living in private households in the continental United States. The survey has a confidence level of plus or minus 3 percent.

This is the fifth annual survey of American consumers commissioned by AMTA. Opinion Research Corporation International conducted its first survey of consumers on massage by telephone on June 5-8, 1997.

More people getting massage

  • More than twice as many adult Americans report receiving one or more massages from a massage therapist in the past year (17 percent) as did in 1997 (8 percent). The number who report getting a massage each year has steadily increased. In 2000, 16 percent said they had a massage in the past year; in 1999, 15 percent said they had; in 1998, 13 percent said they had done so.

  • Seventeen percent of adult Americans in 2001 say they had a massage in the past year compared with 17 percent in 1997 who said they had a massage in the previous five years. In 2001, 27 percent of Americans say they have had a massage in the past five years.

  • Twenty-four percent of Americans expect to get a massage from a massage therapist in the next 12 months, compared to 21 percent in 2000 who expected to do so.

  • Twenty-five percent of adults with family incomes of $50,000+ had a massage from a massage therapist in the past twelve months.

Why get a massage?

  • Of the 27 percent of Americans who got a massage in the last 5 years, 35 percent of adults got their last massage for medical reasons, while 31 percent got a massage to pamper themselves, 15 percent for relaxation, and 10 percent for stress reduction. [The three top medical reasons were for muscle soreness/stiffness/spasm (10 percent); to reduce/manage pain (10 percent); and for injury recovery and rehab (8 percent).]

  • Among those 65 years and older, 56 percent got their last massage for medical reasons.

  • Almost one-third of adults surveyed (29 percent) say that medical reasons would motivate them to get a massage. [Some medical reasons include: muscle soreness/stiffness/spasm (9 percent); to reduce pain (7 percent); for wellness and prevention (4 percent); greater joint flexibility or range of motion (4 percent); for injury recovery and rehab (3 percent); or to improve blood circulation (2 percent).]

  • Twenty-one percent report that they would seek therapeutic massage for relaxation and 10 percent say they would seek massage for stress reduction. Only 6 percent say they would seek massage just to feel good, to pamper themselves or as a special indulgence.

  • Seventy-three percent think of massage as something that is therapeutic or both therapeutic and feels good.

How do Americans determine the effectiveness of their massage?

Among the 27 percent of adults who had a massage in the last 5 years:

  • Thirty-five percent say that their last massage made them feel relaxed.

  • Twenty-five percent say their last massage helped them feel more fit, healthy or well.

  • Twelve percent say their massage relieved their stress.

Public view of massage therapists

  • Fifty-five percent of Americans say massage therapists are providers of a stress-reducing service outside of medicine.

  • Forty-two percent say massage therapists are providers of alternative or complementary healthcare.

  • Forty percent say massage therapists provide a non-medical service.

  • Thirty-four percent view massage therapists as complementary members of a healthcare team.

  • Thirty-one percent think massage therapists are healthcare professionals.

  • Twenty-five percent view the role of massage therapists as members of a team of healthcare professionals led by a doctor.

Positive view of massage by doctors

  • Of the 16 percent of adults who spoke to their healthcare providers about massage therapy, 79 percent report that the conversation was favorable about massage and 13 percent report the conversation was neutral.

  • Americans 45-54 years old were more likely to have discussed massage with their doctors (21 percent), with those 55-64 years old close behind at 19 percent. Only eleven percent of those 25-34 years old say they discussed massage with their doctors.

  • Of the 16 percent of adults who spoke to their healthcare providers about massage therapy, 31 percent were referred to a massage therapist by their chiropractor and 26 percent were referred by their physician.

Health insurance coverage of massage

  • Fifty-eight percent of adults would like to have their health insurance cover massage.

  • Forty-three percent would be willing for massage to be added to their health plan, if they pay the massage therapist directly at a discount.

  • Thirty-five percent are willing to pay extra for massage as an add-on to their health insurance policy.

  • Thirty percent are not willing to pay extra through their health plans to cover massage.

  • Twenty-one percent are willing to pay higher premiums to their health plan to have massage as a covered benefit.

  • Fifty-three percent say they are more likely to get a regular massage if it is covered by their health plan.

Where do Americans get a massage?

  • Seventeen percent got their last massage from a massage therapist at a day spa, while 14 percent got their massage in the massage therapist’s office and 10 percent say they received their massage in their own home.

  • Sixteen percent of males (the highest percentage) got their massage from a massage therapist at home, with 15 percent receiving massage in the therapist’s office vs. women who mostly (23 percent) got their last massage in a day spa.

  • Thirty-three percent of African-Americans (their first choice) got their massage from a massage therapist at home, while a day spa was the first choice (17 percent) for white Americans to get their last massage.

  • Americans also report getting their last massage from a massage therapist in a chiropractor’s office (9 percent), a beauty salon (7 percent), a health club (7 percent), a hotel/resort (5 percent), medical clinic (3 percent), the workplace (3 percent), student clinic (2 percent), hospital (2 percent), retail outlet (1 percent), physician’s office (1 percent), and at miscellaneous locations (13 percent).

Where would Americans prefer to get massage?

  • Of the 62 percent of adults who see massage as beneficial, the highest percentage of all adults surveyed (40 percent) say they would prefer to receive massage from a massage therapist in their homes, 26 percent in the therapist’s office and 23 percent at a day spa.

  • Forty-four percent of men would rather get their massage at home, while 36 percent of women would prefer the massage at home. Women listed their second choice (32 percent) as the day spa to get a massage, while only 12 percent of men want to go to the spa for a massage.

Take time for massage

  • Twenty-one percent of Americans continue to say that the primary reason they don’t get a regular massage is that they are too busy. This figure has varied little since 1997, with 20 percent giving this reason in 2000, 21 percent in 1999, 18 percent in 1998, and 24 percent in 1997. People understand its benefits, but say they are too busy to take the time to get a regular massage.

  • Thirty-six percent say that the cost of massage is the reason they don’t get a regular massage.

Regional differences

  • West Coast residents had the highest percentage saying they had a massage in the past 12 months (22 percent). Figures for the rest of the country were 20 percent in North Central states, 14 percent in the Northeast, and 13 percent in the South.

  • More people in the West and Northeast expect to get a massage in the next 12 months (29 percent in the West and 26 percent in the Northeast).

The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) is a professional organization of 47,000 members in 30 countries. AMTA Professional members have demonstrated a level of skill and knowledge through education and/or testing. New Professional members must be graduates of training programs accredited or approved by the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA); be graduates of AMTA Council of Schools member-schools; be Nationally Certified in Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork; or have a current AMTA-accepted city, state or provincial license.

The American Massage Therapy Association provides information about massage therapy to the public. The association also helps consumers and healthcare professionals locate qualified massage therapists nationwide, through its Find a Massage Therapist national locator service. The free national locator service is available via AMTA’s Web site at www.amtamassage.org and toll-free at 888-843-2682 [888-THE-AMTA].

 

"AMTA is very supportive. I definitely am glad I chose to be an AMTA member."

Bailey L., AMTA member since 2016

Massage