262503 Incorporating massage therapists into the public health work force to promote health and reduce musculoskeletal symptoms

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 : 2:30 PM - 2:50 PM

Karen Boulanger, CMT, MS , University of Iowa, San Jose, CA
Shelly Campo, PhD , Community and Behavioral Health, University of Iowa, College of Public Health, Iowa City, IA
John B. Lowe, DrPH, FAHPA, FAAHB , School of Health and Sport Sciences, University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore, Australia
The aim of this study was to demonstrate the potential role of massage therapists (MTs) as members of the public health work force in the areas of health promotion and musculoskeletal symptom management. First, a survey was mailed to a random sample of 400 licensed MTs in Iowa to assess their health promotion behavior; the response rate was 40%. Second, 24 Iowa MTs volunteered to distribute surveys to 25 consecutive clients to assess their reasons for seeking care; 321 client surveys were analyzed. Third, a review of the literature and programs developed by MTs was conducted. According to the MT survey, a sizable number of MTs were commonly engaged in health promoting activities related to diet, stress management, and exercise counseling. The client surveys revealed that massage was used for relaxation and wellness as well as to reduce symptoms related to the back, neck, and shoulders. The literature review supported the survey findings; research indicates that clients seek out MTs for both health promotion and musculoskeletal symptom reduction. The evidence supporting the use of massage to reduce back and neck pain is building. In addition, MTs participate in community health programs such as efforts related to early detection of skin cancer and providing care for disaster responders, the homeless, pediatric burn survivors, and developmentally disabled adults, among many others. Acknowledging the health promotion role of MTs may lead to more opportunities for MTs to improve the health of the public.

Learning Areas:
Other professions or practice related to public health

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify the various health promoting behaviors that massage therapists engage in with their clients 2. Name the common reasons for which clients seek out massage therapy 3. List examples of community health projects that involve massage therapists

Keywords: Health Promotion, Alternative Medicine/Therapies

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been doing research in massage therapy and public health for 7 years.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.