Consumer Views & Use of Massage Therapy

How to Choose a Massage Therapist1

American massage consumers view the American Massage Therapy Association® (AMTA®) as the most respected and credible name in massage therapy – four times higher than any other massage organization or business.

  • Consumers prefer their massage therapist be a member of AMTA four to one over any other national massage organization or business.
  • AMTA remains the most trusted name in massage therapy by a ratio of more than 5-1 among adults who have had a massage in the past year.
  • 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 massage therapist compared to members of any other group.
  • 19 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 for Health and Wellness2

67 percent of individuals surveyed claim the primary reason for receiving their last massage in the previous 12 months was medical (41 percent) or stress (26 percent) related, according to the 22nd annual consumer survey sponsored by the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA).

Medical reasons include pain relief, soreness, stiffness or spasms, injury recovery, migraines, prevention, pregnancy or prenatal, and general well-being.

Top Reasons for Getting a Massage in 2018

Top Reasons to Get a Massage in 2018

Source: AMTA's 2018 Consumer Survey
  • 88 percent of individuals view massage as being beneficial to overall health and wellness.
  • 88 percent of consumers surveyed believe that massage can be effective in reducing pain; with 31 percent of respondents stating they have used massage therapy for pain relief.
  • Consumers received an average of 4.5 massages  in the past 12 months.
  • Consumers received an average of 11.7 massages in the past 5 years. 

Reasons to Get a Massage2

Consumers have quickly learned the value and efficacy of massage therapy as an important approach for health and medical conditions. 

  • As few as 28 percent of individuals believe massage therapy is only a form of pampering.
    In the previous 12 months, 20 percent of massage consumers received their last massage at a spa compared to 23 percent in 2017.
  • 70 percent of consumers agree that massage therapy should be considered a form of health care.
  • 85 percent of consumers have used massage for medical reasons.
  • 31 percent of consumers have used massage as a form of pain relief.
  • 34 percent have considered massage therapy as an alternative to opioids or other prescription pain relievers. 

Medical Providers Are Recommending Massage2

Medical providers and doctors are more commonly viewing massage therapy as a complementary option to address health concerns. 

Of consumers who discussed massage therapy with their doctors:

  • 11 percent were referred to a massage therapist by their doctor.
  • 36 percent indicated that they were encouraged by their doctor to receive a massage.
  • 18 percent were told by their doctor that a massage might benefit them.
  • 67 percent of respondents said their physician has recommended they get a massage.

Consumers are Discussing Specific Medical Conditions with Their Doctors2 

  • 33 percent of respondents discussed pain relief or pain management with their doctor.
  • 24 percent discussed injury recovery or rehabilitation with their doctor.
  • 13 percent discussed soreness, stiffness, and spasms with their doctor.
  • Other conditions discussed included headaches, pregnancy, and relaxation or stress reduction. 

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 providers locate professional massage therapists nationwide, through AMTA’s Find a Massage Therapist® free national locator service available at

About the Survey Findings

1 July 2018 survey conducted nationwide by Zogby Analytics of 1,252 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 22nd 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 1,001 adults, 504 men and 497 women 18 years of age and older, living in the continental United States. 406 interviews were from the landline sample and 595 interviews from the cell phone sample. Interviewing for this survey was completed on July 12-15, 2018.

October 2018

© American Massage Therapy Association 2018. All rights reserved.® is a registered trademark of the American Massage Therapy Association

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

Bailey L., AMTA member since 2016