2011 – Massage therapists’ collection of health history and client conditions encountered: A MassageNet survey

Posted:Friday, March 31, 2017

Jerrilyn Cambron, LMT, DC, MPH, PhD,
Jennifer Dexheimer, LMT, BS,
Dana Madigan, BS,
Nicole Brod, BS,
Tracy Walton, LMT, MS
National University of Health Sciences

Introduction: No known research exists on the type or amount of information collected by massage therapists regarding clients’ past medical history.

Purpose: The purpose of this IRB-approved study was to determine whether massage therapists collect health history from their clients, what conditions are inquired about, and what conditions are thought to be frequently encountered in practice.

Methods: Massage Therapists were recruited through the MassageNet practice-based research network and a massage news release. This survey was conducted online using SurveyMonkey. The questions inquired about (1) collection of health histories in various practice settings, (2) frequency of collection of information regarding 26 different medical conditions, (3) occurrence of these conditions within their client population, and (4) interest in further education related to these conditions.

Results: A total of 130 therapists responded to survey questions. All therapists reported taking some form of medical history when working in the following settings: client’s home/office, gym/fitness facility/sports organization, massage clinic or office, other healthcare clinic/office, and spa/salon/resort. However, 15% of those working onsite/event massage (10 of 65) and 6% of those working at a hospital/hospice/nursing home (2 of 32) reported not taking any health history prior to the massage. Of the 26 listed conditions, the most common conditions that therapists always inquired about included: heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes mellitus. Over 80% of all responding therapists have seen at least one client with fibromyalgia, asthma, hypertension, and breast cancer. When asked about interest in further education, the most common of the 26 conditions included fibromyalgia and spinal cord injury.

Conclusion: The majority of massage therapists collect health histories regardless of their practice setting and report knowing that their clients have various medical conditions. Interest in further education was not limited to the primary care conditions confronting most therapists.