Research

Consumer Survey Fact Sheet

Massage Therapy for Regular Health Maintenance

75 percent of individuals surveyed claim their primary reason for receiving a massage in the past 12 months was medical (43 percent) and stress (32 percent) related, according to the 16th annual consumer survey sponsored by the American Massage Therapy Association® (AMTA®). Medical reasons include pain relief, soreness, stiffness or spasms, injury recovery, migraines, prevention, and general well-being.

  • 87 percent of individuals view massage as being beneficial to overall health and wellness.
  • 89 percent of consumers surveyed believe that massage can be effective in reducing pain; with 29 percent of respondents admitting they have used massage therapy for pain relief.
  • The overall mean (excluding none) was 4.2 massages for those receiving massage in past12 months. Those whose primary reason for getting massage was medical, got a mean of 5.7 massages.
  • Overall mean (excluding none) was 10.7 massages for those receiving massage in past 5 years. Those whose primary reason for getting massage was medical, got a mean of 13.7 massages.

Americans’ Reasons for Getting Massages Are Changing

Instead of seeking massage therapy solely for relaxation and pampering purposes, individuals are turning to massage therapy to assist with medical conditions.

  • As few as 31 percent of individuals believe massage therapy is only a form of pampering.
  • In the past 12 months, 19 percent of respondents received a massage at a spa compared to 23 percent in 2011. This decline, and the presence of chiropractor’s offices, health clubs and physician’s offices/medical clinics on the list of locations where people receive massage, indicates consumers identify massage as an important component of overall health and wellness.
  • 50 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, or to control headaches or migraines.
  • 44 percent of respondents indicated that medical benefits would be their primary motivation for having a massage. A lower number of respondents said relaxation/stress reduction or pampering would be their motivation to receive a massage; 35 percent and 11 percent, respectively.

Health Care Providers Recommending Massage as a Viable Form of Treatment

Health care providers and doctors are more commonly viewing massage therapy as a legitimate option to address health concerns.

  • 50 percent of respondents indicated that they were encouraged by their doctor to receive a massage.
  • 61 percent of respondents said their physician has recommended they get a massage.

How to Find a Professional Massage Therapist

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 findamassagetherapist.org.


About the Survey Findings

The annual consumer survey was conducted by ORC International. This report presents the findings of a telephone survey conducted among two national probability samples, a landline phone sample and a cell phone sample. When combined, the total sample consisted of 1,010 adults, 504 men and 506 women 18 years of age and older, living in the continental United States. 760 interviews were from the landline sample and 250 interviews from the cell phone sample. Interviewing for this Survey was completed on August 9-12, 2012.

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