Consumer Views & Use of Massage Therapy

How & Why do People Choose Their Massage Therapists?1

  • American massage consumers view the American Massage Therapy Association® (AMTA®) as the most trusted and respected name in massage therapy – three times higher than any other massage organization or business.
  • Consumers prefer their massage therapist be a member of AMTA.
  • Consumers see AMTA as having the best trained and educated massage therapists
  • Twice as many massage consumers in the past year looked for an AMTA therapist compared members of any other group.
  • 23 percent of consumers surveyed reported receiving a massage from a professional massage therapist in the past year.

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

Massage Therapy for Regular Health Maintenance2

85 percent of individuals surveyed claim their primary reason for receiving a massage in the previous 12 months was medical (52 percent) or stress (23 percent) related, according to the 19th annual consumer survey sponsored by the American Massage Therapy Association. Medical reasons include pain relief, soreness, stiffness or spasms, injury recovery, migraines, prevention, pregnancy or pre-natal, and general well-being.

  • 90 percent of individuals view massage as being beneficial to overall health and wellness.
  • 91 percent of consumers surveyed believe that massage can be effective in reducing pain; with 28 percent of respondents stating they have used massage therapy for pain relief.
  • The overall mean was 4.35 massages for those receiving massage in past 12 months. Those whose primary reason for getting massage was medical got a mean of 5.8 massages.
  • Overall mean was 13 massages for those receiving massage in past 5 years. Those whose primary reason for getting massage was medical got a mean of 15 massages.

Americans’ Reasons for Getting Massages Are Changing2

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 25 percent of individuals believe massage therapy is only a form of pampering.
  • In the previous 12 months, 17 percent of massage consumers received their last massage at a spa compared to 21 percent in 2014.
  • 72 percent of consumers agree that massage therapy should be considered a form of healthcare.
  • 52 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, pregnancy/prenatal, or to control headaches or migraines. This compares to 56 percent of respondents in the 2014 study.

Healthcare Providers Recommending Massage as a Viable Form of Treatment2

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
  • 54 percent of respondents indicated that they were encouraged by their doctor to receive a massage, down from 57 percent in 2014, but up from 48 percent in 2013.
  • 11 percent were told by their doctor that a massage might benefit them.

54 percent of respondents said their physician has recommended they get a massage, down from 59 percent last year.

Consumers are Discussing Specific Medical Conditions with Their Doctors2 

  • 38 percent of respondents discussed pain relief or pain management with their doctor
  • 23 percent discussed injury recovery or rehabilitation with their doctor
  • 11 percent discussed soreness, stiffness, and spasms with their doctor

About the Survey Findings

1 July 2015 survey conducted nationwide by Zogby Analytics of 1,193 adults (18+) on consumer awareness and brand name recognition, as well as consumers' views of AMTA and its competitor massage associations and employers.

2 AMTA’s 19th annual consumer survey conducted by ORC International. This report presents the findings of a telephone survey conducted among two national probability samples, which, when combined, consists of 1,017 adults, 520 men and 497 women 18 years of age and older, living in the continental United States. 520 interviews were from the landline sample and 497 interviews from the cell phone sample. Interviewing for this Survey was completed on July 16-19, 2015.

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

October 2015

© American Massage Therapy Association 2015 All rights reserved.® is a registered trademark of the American Massage Therapy Association

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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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