If you are planning a career in massage therapy, you’ll be glad to know that research supporting the therapeutic and health benefits of massage is growing. However, a special group of experts believes that the most important research might be found outside of the lab, in data collected directly from the day-to-day practice of massage therapists and their clients.
Several research professionals from National University of Health Sciences (NUHS) received a $30,000 grant from the Massage Therapy Foundation to create MassageNet a new practice-based research network for the massage therapy and bodywork professions. NUHS has a strong commitment to “evidence-based” practice and research, and is one of the sources for important new research in the field of massage therapy.
Recognizing the invaluable role therapists play in the health and wellness field, MassageNet will use data gathered from massage therapists and their clients in real world settings. MassageNet’s mission is to develop a channel for communication between massage therapists, students, researchers, educators, administrators, and health care policy makers.
The site’s founder, Jerrilyn Cambron, DC, MPH, PhD, is a professor in NUHS’ Department of Research and also a licensed massage therapist. She has served as a principal investigator in research studies focused on massage and chiropractic care for over 20 years. “We’ve received an overwhelmingly positive response from the massage therapy community,” says Dr. Cambron, who hopes to apply for additional funding from the National Institutes of Health so that MassageNet can continue to build research efforts within the massage therapy profession.
The website will collect survey information directly from its members. Some survey studies will be open to specific therapists based on practice parameters, and therapists can choose to participate in those studies that are most interesting or relevant to their practice. Participation is always voluntary and MassageNet does not charge a fee to join or to be part of its studies.
Jennifer Dexheimer, the site’s co-founder, is also a licensed massage therapist who has worked as Clinical Research Coordinator at NUHS for over 10 years. She has been involved in managing the day-to-day operations of NUHS clinical research studies on chiropractic and massage. Jennifer reports that MassageNet recently completed a demographic survey of field therapists and their clients in Illinois. “The survey asked therapists about the types of clients they see, the types of techniques they use, their specialty areas, as well as personal demographic questions. Each therapist who completed a survey was asked to invite 20 clients to participate by filling out a separate survey,” says Ms. Dexheimer. “The client survey asked demographic questions and questions about the effects of massage, including how the client felt prior to their massage, how they felt immediately after the massage, and how they felt 24 hours later.” The survey results are currently being assessed for a final report.
In addition to surveys, MassageNet will also conduct primary research and share latest research findings in the field to expand the body of knowledge available to the massage therapy profession and other health care specialists.
Imagine how exciting it would be to not only launch a new career as a massage therapist, but to also be part of a network contributing to ongoing research in your profession. That’s why NUHS is proud of its faculty, students, alumni, and staff who are working together in projects such as MassageNet.