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Features Op-Ed
Assuring quality of massage therapy through research

March 11, 2014 — In order for the massage therapy profession in Canada to continue developing as a health-care profession, they body of knowledge informing practice must advance through research. Stakeholders, including professional associations, practitioners, educators and regulators, are increasingly engaged in the various areas needed to support the research capacity and literacy of the massage therapy profession.


March 11, 2014
By College of Massage Therapists of Ontario

Topics

Under legislation, the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario (CMTO) has responsibility to:
• To develop, establish and maintain programs and standards of practice to assure the quality of the practice of the profession.
• To develop, establish and maintain standards of knowledge and skill and programs to promote continuing evaluation, competence and improvement among the members.

As a result, CMTO has been committed to supporting research on massage therapy through the Massage Therapy Research Fund (MTRF). It is the first and, to date the only, research funding source specifically dedicated to massage therapy.

The MTRF, a national level funding competition, was established in 2005 and initially supported through contributions from the Massage Therapists’ Association of BC, the Ontario Massage Therapist Association (now the Registered Massage Therapists Association of Ontario), individual massage therapists and the public. Since 2010, the MTRF funding competition has been administered through the IN-CAM Research Network. IN-CAM’s mission is to enable and support investigation of complementary, alternative and integrative practices through research. It is one of the few places with an inter-professional focus encouraging collaboration and learning across professions.

Prior to 2010, the MTRF was administered by the Holistic Research Foundation of Canada (HHRFC) – a federal charity. When HHRFC wound up its operations, CMTO had to locate another charitable organization to continue the MTRF.

“The College Council was looking for an organization which would ensure that the funds donated to the MTRF by CMTO would be safeguarded and managed appropriately,” said Corinne Flitton, registrar and CEO, CMTO. “In addition, Council wanted to ensure that the research funded through the MTRF was of high quality and had appropriate ethical standards. Council was please to select IN-CAM to carry out this function. IN-CAM, based at two Canadian universities (University of Calgary and University of Toronto), is led by recognized researchers in the field, is inclusive of massage therapy, and has experience administering funding competitions.”

The MTRF funds research projects that align with, but are not limited to, one of the following areas:
• Massage therapy effectiveness, efficacy and safety
• Massage therapy delivery and policy
• Massage therapy knowledge translation

The MTRF provides opportunities for massage therapists to undertake research to answer important questions relevant to their practice. To ensure that MTRF-funded studies are conducted in a rigorous way, grants are awarded to individuals or teams with research credentials and based at a recognized Canadian research institution (e.g. university, college or research hospital). In addition, the MTRF has a direct impact on the development of valuable research skills within the profession. Massage therapists undertaking graduate studies to complete a Masters degree or a PhD can apply for funding for thesis projects focused on massage therapy.

“It’s a very unique opportunity for the profession as a whole, and allows for building a solid foundation of knowledge and critical inquiry to support what massage therapists do on a daily basis,” said Ania Kania-Richmond, acting director of the IN-CAM Research Network. Kania-Richmond is also a massage therapist who recently completed her PhD. Her thesis work on hospital-based massage therapy in Canada was supported through a MTRF grant during its administration under the HHRFC.

To date, more than $200,000 in grants have been awarded through the MTRF, benefitting 17 researchers and research teams from across Canada.

The most recent MTRF funding competition is close to completion. Individuals awarded with the 2013/2014 MTRF grants will be announced in May 2014 – stay tuned.

For further information about massge therapy research, visit the MTRF website.


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