Current MTF Research Projects

Learn more about currently ongoing MTF-funded research projects

Massage Therapy as a Preventative for Post-Irradiation Fibrosis and Neuropathy

2023 MTF Research Grant: $187,012
Dr. Geoffrey Bove
Bove Consulting, Kennebunkport, Maine

Life-extending radiation therapy for cancer can have severe and undesirable effects, including radiating pain and paresthesia, motor limitations, and altered function. Early effects include muscle and vascular damage, such as radiation-induced fibrosis of muscles, nerves, and vessels. Currently, there is no effective preventive/treatment strategy for radiation morbidities. This foundational study explores whether typical manual therapy treatment (massage and mobilization) prevent the fibrosis and thus the pathologies and pathophysiologies caused by radiation. Using an animal model, this will provide evidence that massage therapy is promising in reducing the potential damages caused by radiation therapy.

“This study promises to provide insight into the mechanistic benefits of massage therapy post-cancer irradiation. We are thrilled with  the opportunity to advance research and the evidence-informed practice of therapeutic massage in line with the goals of our Research Agenda,” said Adrienne F. Asta, President, Massage Therapy Foundation.

The study is funded with generous financial support from the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA). “This is a significant example of AMTA’s leadership in supporting MTF in its mission of advancing foundational, evidence-informed massage therapy practice,” said Michaele M. Colizza, President, AMTA. “This study further expands the growing body of data on massage therapy efficacy for cancer patients receiving radiation treatment.”

Check out the video below to learn more about this grant:


Mindful Awareness in Body-Oriented Therapy (MABT) for Chronic Pain: An Implementation Science Pilot Study

2021 MTF Research Support Grant: $30,000
Kathryn Hansen, ANP-BC

Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN

Implementation science research is needed to understand how to successfully implement evidence-based mind-body approaches for the treatment of chronic pain. This is especially needed to better understand how patients use care delivered by massage therapists who are not able to bill insurance, particularly within an interdisciplinary team. Mindful Awareness in Body-oriented Therapy (MABT) is a mind-body approach explicitly designed to reduce symptomatic distress through teaching interoceptive awareness skills for self-care and emotion regulation and can be delivered by massage therapists. This is the first MABT implementation science study, and the first targeting a chronic pain population from the community. This pilot study uses a single-group hybrid implementation-effectiveness design involving mixed methods and repeated measures. The specific aims are to: 1) explore uptake of MABT within the clinic by examining key implementation science outcomes of MABT acceptability, appropriateness, adoption and penetration; and 2) examine the effectiveness of MABT to reduce patient symptomatic distress. Analyses will include descriptive statistics of clinic stakeholder surveys and electronic health record (EHR) data, and content analysis of the qualitative data from the open-ended questions on surveys and focus group interviews. Repeated measures analysis of covariance will be used to analyze change in patient health outcomes. The study results are expected to support a future NIH or PCORI implementation science proposal.

Click here to read the press release.

Massage Service Integration in a Military Primary Care Clinic: Implementation and Impact Study

2019 MTF Research Award: $210,000
Dr. Krista Highland
Defense and Veterans Center for Integrative Pain Management (DVCIPM), Rockville, MD

This grant was funded by a gift from AMTA

Acute and chronic pain carry grave economic, operational, and personal consequences within the Department of Defense (DoD) and Veterans Administration (VA). Both the DoD and VA populations have significantly higher prevalence of chronic pain compared to civilian populations. As a result, the opioid epidemic witnessed in the civilian population is mirrored in the DoD and VA populations. The study researches massage therapy’s promising evidence-based approach to reducing the burden of chronic pain within the DoD and VA.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this study has been extended through 2024.

Click here to read the press release.