Prevalence, patterns, and predictors of massage practitioner utilization: Results of a US nationally representative survey

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Musculoskeletal Science and Practice, 2017, 32 pp. 31 - 37
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© 2017 Elsevier Ltd Background The use of massage therapy is common, especially in patients with musculoskeletal pain. The purpose of this study was to examine the prevalence, utilization, socio-demographic and health-related predictors of massage practitioner consultations in the US population. Methods Cross-sectional data from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey for adults (n = 34,525). Results Prevalence of massage practitioner utilization were 12.8% (lifetime) and 6.8% (last 12 months). Compared to non-users, those who used massage in the last year were more likely: female, at least high school educated, annual income ≥ US$ 15,000, diagnosed with spinal pain or arthritis, report moderate physical activity level as compared to low level, and consume alcohol as compared to being abstinent. Massage was mainly used for general wellness or disease prevention (56.3%), but also for specific, typically musculoskeletal, health problems (41.9%) for which 85.2% reported massage helped to some or a great deal. Most (59.1%) did not disclose massage use to their health care provider, despite 69.4% reporting massage therapy combined with medical treatment would be helpful. Conclusions Approximately 7% (15.4 million) of US adults used massage therapy in the past year, mainly for general disease prevention, wellness or musculoskeletal pain. The majority of respondents reported positive outcomes of massage on specific health problems and overall well-being. Massage utilization was rarely covered by health insurance. Despite the majority of massage users considered massage therapy combined with medical care helpful, most did not disclose massage therapy use to their health care provider.
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