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2011 AMTA consumer survey – results are in!

Oct 24., Evanston, IL – Recent results from the 15th annual consumer survey conducted by the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) show consumers have a growing awareness of the health benefits of massage.

October 31, 2011  By Massage Therapy Canada

The AMTA released the results during massage therapy awareness week – an initiative intended to raise public awareness and knowledge regarding massage therapy – which, this year, ran from October 23-29. 

The annual consumer survey was conducted by CARAVAN Opinion Research Corporation International during July 2011, among a national probability sample of 1,009 adults (503 men and 506 women) ages 18 and older, living in private households in the continental United States. The survey has a confidence level of plus or minus three percent. Commissioned by AMTA, this is the fifteenth annual massage therapy survey of American consumers. 

90 per cent of individuals surveyed perceive massage as effective in reducing pain. This number is up from 86 percent in both 2009 and 2010. 
• This increase may be attributed to the increasing number of people who consult doctors and health professionals about massage. 
• The percentage of all surveyed adults who had a massage in the previous 12 months remained consistent at 18 percent in 2011, the same amount as in 2010. 

All survey respondents were asked what they used for pain relief and in 2011, more than 30 percent indicated that they had used massage at some point. This trend has been growing over the last four years. 
• 30 percent of those surveyed in 2011 sought their last massage for relaxation and stress reduction, down from 42 percent last year. This dramatic reduction is likely a combination of the economic hardships that continue to plague the nation and the increasing perception that health benefits are a main reason for paying for a massage. 
• Those with a household income of $50K – $75K (the middle income range of those surveyed) had the highest number of massages in the last year, with an average of 6.2 per household, while the highest income range of $100K+ only had 2.8 massages per household surveyed. This nods at the reduction of massage for relaxation and increased use for specific health needs. 

• 69 percent of Americans have or would recommend massage therapy to a relative or someone else they know. 
• Of consumers who have received at least one massage in the last 12 months, 24 percent have heard of the American Massage Therapy Association. 

“National Massage Therapy Awareness Week is intended to raise public understanding about the benefits of massage and this year we’re pleased that health benefits in particular are a key motivator for people seeking massage,” says Glenath Moyle, AMTA president. “Our recent survey shows that 90 percent of respondents perceive massage as effective in reducing pain and we think this is highly reflective of the good work done every day by our members across the nation.”

Hospitals are taking a cue from this growing trend of massage for health benefits. In a recent survey conducted for the American Hospital Association (AHA) by the Samueli Institute, 42 percent of hospitals surveyed offer some form of a complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) service, and of those, 64 per cent offer massage for outpatient treatment and 44 per cent for inpatient treatment. 

Consumers are also taking notice. According to a recent Consumer Reports survey, respondents indicated that they view deep-tissue massage, along with yoga and Pilates, as effective as prescription medication for the relief of back pain. These survey results build upon the foundation of growing research on this subject. Last year researchers from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles reported findings demonstrating that people who received a Swedish massage experienced significant decreases in levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can ultimately lead to a boost in the immune system. 

“National Massage Therapy Awareness Week is a great time for consumers to have a discussion with a massage therapist about the best massage approach for their health needs,” says Moyle. “People can find a professional massage therapist through our free national online locator service.” 

Consumers often ask what they can expect from a massage therapist. AMTA has published a list of expectations covering issues of respect and privacy between the massage therapist and client, and to promote dialogue between the two. 

AMTA’s expectations for the massage recipient and the massage therapist include: 

What Should Someone Expect from their Massage & Massage Therapist? 
• A clean, safe and comfortable environment before, during and after the massage; 
• Respect, courtesy, confidentiality and dignity;  
• Privacy while changing and right to remove clothing only to their level of comfort for the massage; 
• Draped appropriately by a sheet, towel or blanket, with only the area being massaged exposed;
• A licensed/registered/certified professional massage therapist, working within their scope of practice and in an ethical manner;
• Option to ask questions of the massage therapist and receive professional responses;
• Determine if there will be conversation, music or quiet during the massage;
• An explanation of the nature of the massage and techniques to be used in advance of starting the massage;
• The right to consent to the massage techniques and approaches, including manual pressure, used in the massage.

What Should a Massage Therapist Expect from their Client? 
• Respect, courtesy and dignity; 
• Treated as a healthcare professional;  
• Timely arrival at massage therapy appointment;
• Complete and accurate disclosure of health/medical conditions during intake process;  
• Communication of expectations of and concerns about the massage;  
• Payment at time of service; 
• Reasonable notice (usually 24 hours) in canceling a massage appointment. 

For more information about the AMTA, the national massage therapist locator service, the annual survey and more, please visit

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