Research Agenda


Rigorously controlled and replicated research is a key to the professionalization of any health care field. Reliable research findings are a prerequisite for access to many contexts in which massage therapists practice or would like to practice.

Current Massage Therapy Research Agenda Information

The Massage Therapy Foundation is excited to announce the release of a new MTF Research Agenda, published December 1, 2020 in our journal, the International Journal of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (IJTMB).

Click here to view the full MTF Research Agenda (2020)

1999 Massage Therapy Research Agenda

The Massage Therapy Foundation convened a three-day working conference of research scientists and massage therapists/bodyworkers in March 1999 to frame a research agenda for the field of therapeutic massage and bodywork. Without the active participation of members of the massage profession in deciding what research should be done, there is every possibility that knowledge generated from future research will not be relevant or of value to massage therapists or to their clients.

In preparation for the meeting, the Foundation recognized that various constituencies already held agendas, which would need to be articulated and addressed. Prior to the meeting, a web site survey and focus groups conducted by the Foundation revealed that massage therapists had three key goals that needed to inform the research agenda.

  1. Massage therapists want more people to seek regular massage for health maintenance and well-being. What is the research agenda that might lead to this?
  2. Massage therapists want to understand more clearly how and why their work is effective or ineffective. What is the research agenda that will lead to this understanding?
  3. Some massage therapists want to be reimbursed by third party payers for their work. What is the research agenda most likely to lead to this?

Other health care professionals also have concerns and questions that would drive their agenda for our field. For example, physicians and health care administrators want to know when to refer for massage and which kind of massage to recommend for which conditions. What is the research agenda that will help these health care professionals?

Thus the Massage Therapy Foundation convened a Massage Research Agenda Workgroup (MRAW) which included physicians, clinical and experimental scientists, social scientists and massage therapists, and bodyworkers all selected to represent a relatively broad spectrum of expertise in their fields. It included a diverse group of Americans, Canadians, and Europeans.

View the complete Research Agenda here: 1999 Massage Therapy Research Agenda