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AMTA Releases Annual Research on Massage Therapy Profession at AMTA Massage Schools Summit

The American Massage Therapy Association® (AMTA®) sixth annual summary research on the state of the massage therapy profession indicates mixed indicators for the massage therapy marketplace. Although consumers continue to strongly believe in the efficacy of massage therapy, fewer of them received massage in 2012 than the year before. But, practicing massage therapists reported working, on average, more hours this past year, while the health care industry continues to offer employment opportunities for massage therapists in a variety of settings. So, it is likely there were fewer massage therapists actively practicing than in the year before.

A detailed report focused on the meaning of the research for massage therapy schools and their students was released and discussed today at the AMTA 2013 Massage Schools Summit in Chicago.

Based on four surveys conducted for AMTA in recent months, and data from government agencies, the research continues to show that consumers ultimately determine the health of the massage therapy profession and that they accept the value of massage therapy as part of health and well-being. 

“This research and analyses can be very important for our members and everyone in the profession,” says AMTA President Cynthia Ribeiro. “It’s invaluable to all of us. Our profession and how massage therapy is accepted by consumers and those in health care keeps changing and evolving.  If we massage therapists don’t know what is happening in the marketplace, we may be at a real disadvantage in knowing where we can practice successfully.”

The percentage of adult American consumers who received a massage declined to 16 percent in 2012 from 18 percent in 2011 and the average number of massages received went from 4.5 in 2011 to 4.2 in 2012. Approximately 34.5 million people had a total of 145 million massages in 2012, a 15 percent decline from the 170.5 million massages received in the U.S. by 37.9 million people in 2011.

As part of a major multi-year commitment to public education on the benefits of massage therapy and to increase the number of people seeking massage, AMTA launched its Consumer Awareness Program and Massage Therapy Tour in five major metropolitan areas in the summer of 2012. Data collected from consumers after receiving massage at these tour stops showed 89 percent were more likely to recommend massage to their family or friends and 78 percent reported they would be more likely to look for an AMTA massage therapist. 

On average, massage therapists worked 21.6 hours per week in 2012, up significantly from 19.6 hours per week in 2011. Massage therapists saw an average of 41 clients each month in 2012, up from 38.9 clients per month in 2011. 

The health care industry continues to offer employment opportunities for massage therapists in a variety of settings. Overall, health care industry employment grew 2 percent higher in 2012 over that for 2011 to 17 million. The category of “Outpatient care centers,” which includes massage therapists, as defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, experienced a 5.8 percent growth in the past year. Twenty-seven percent of massage therapists reported working in a health care setting in 2012 (19 percent in a chiropractic office / integrated health care clinic and 8 percent in a hospital / medical office or clinic) slightly less than the 29 percent of therapists working in health care settings in 2011. 
More massage therapists received referrals from health care professionals in 2012 than 2011 with particular increases from hospitals and medical offices (51 percent in 2012 versus 46 percent in 2011) and chiropractors and integrated health clinics (67 percent in 2012 versus 63 percent in 2011).

The growing number of referrals from health care professionals indicates increased integration of massage therapy in health care environments.

Read AMTA’s 2012 Massage Therapy Industry Fact Sheet

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Jesse J., AMTA member since 2011

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