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Massage Today
January, 2001, Vol. 01, Issue 01

AMTA Consumer Survey Reveals Trends in Massage

By Editorial Staff

In 1997, the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) first commissioned the Opinion Research Corporation, from Princeton, New Jersey, to conduct a survey of massage use by the consumer population.

This year, the AMTA commissioned its fourth annual survey of American consumers among a probability sample of 1,006 adults (506 men and 500 women) ages 18 and older living in private households in the continental United States.

The results1 provide some interesting perspectives on the current role of massage therapy in the general population:

  • More people getting massage - Twice as many adult Americans reported receiving one or more massages from a massage therapist in the past year (16 percent) than in 1997 (only eight percent).
  • Twenty-one percent of adults surveyed said they expected to schedule a massage with a massage therapist within the next 12 months.
  • All income groups - Although high income (family income of $50,000 or more) strongly predicted use of massage in the previous 12 months (23% of adults), adults from lower-income families also utilized massage services: 15% of adults with family incomes under $15,000 or with incomes of $35,000 - $50,000; 14% of those with family incomes of $25,000 - $35,000; and 10% of adults with incomes of $15,000 - $25,000.
  • All age groups - Massage proved popular among all age groups, particularly those ages 35-44 (21% reporting at least one massage in the past 12 months). Other age groups also reported substantial use of massage: 14% of adults ages 18-24; 16% of those 25-34; 17% of those 45-54; 13% for the 55-64 age group; and 11% of adults aged 65 and older.
  • More women than men - Eighteen percent of women surveyed reported receiving one or more massages in the previous year, compared with 13% of men. More women than men also expected to receive massage in the next year (25% of men vs. 17% of women).
  • Reasons for massage - "Medical reasons" were the greatest reported motivation to receive massage (29% of adults), including relief of muscle soreness/stiffness or pain; rehabilitation of a previous injury; prevention of injury or illness (wellness); improvement of joint flexibility or range of motion; or a physician's recommendation. Twenty percent said they would seek massage for relaxation; 10% said they would utilize massage to reduce stress.
  • Thumbs up from doctors - Of the 14% of adults who spoke to their doctors about massage therapy, 71% reported a "favorable" conversation about massage, while 20% reported that the conversation was "neutral." Among the senior population (ages 65 and older), 84% deemed conversations with their doctor on the subject of massage as "favorable."

The AMTA survey also provided insights into regional and ethnic variations in massage therapy use. Twenty-one of West Coast adults receiving a massage in the past 12 months compared to only 14% in the South and Northeast. Fifteen percent of Hispanic adults received at least one massage in the past 12 months, compared with 16% of the general adult population surveyed.

An interesting statistic from the survey involved reasons for not getting a massage: 20% of Americans noted they were "too busy" to receive a regular massage. This figure is consistent with previous years (21% in 1999, 18% in 1998, and 24% in 1997).


  1. 2000 Massage Consumer Survey Fact Sheet. Available on line at


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