The Characteristics, Experiences and Perceptions of Registered Massage Therapists in New Zealand: Results from a National Survey of Practitioners
Background: Massage therapy is widely recognized as offering many health benefits, with a growing number of studies finding it has value in stress management, pain reduction, and overcoming physical limitations. However, there are few studies of massage therapists practices and perceptions in New Zealand and internationally. This paper reports the findings from the first national survey examining the characteristics, perceptions, and experiences of New Zealand-based massage therapists on a range of aspects related to their role and practices.
Purpose: This study sought to ascertain the characteristics, experiences, and perceptions of massage therapists in New Zealand, particularly in the aspects of: integration of health care; attitudes and practices related to research; and evidence and attitudes to registration.
Setting: Massage practice in New Zealand (nationwide survey).
Participants: Members of Massage New Zealand (a massage practitioners association).
Research Design: Massage practitioners were surveyed online, using a 65-part questionnaire, on a range of characteristics of their practices and their attitudes to research, integration, and registration. Statistical analysis was performed using STATA. Statistical significance was set at 0.05.
Main Outcome Measures: Four hundred massage therapists (MTs) were invited to participate and 115 responded, providing a response rate of 29%. MTs valued research (95%) and perceived that it had an impact for their practices (88%). Significant correlations were found for research value and: mean case-load (p = .009) and level of academic qualification (p = .004). The majority of MTs (79%) supported integration with conventional practitioners, and 83% referred clients to general practitioners, with 75% receiving referrals from general practitioners. Ninety-three percent of MTs supported registration, with 67% of those supporting statutory registration.
Conclusion: Massage practitioners perceive that they make a significant contribution to health care, but area of practice, such as research, and referral and integration into mainstream health care require more in-depth investigation.
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