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Massage Today
February, 2003, Vol. 03, Issue 02

Consumers Still Believe in Massage

Latest AMTA Survey Shows Increased Acceptance, Utilization

By Editorial Staff

The events and aftermath of September 11, 2001, have translated into considerable economic and political instability, not to mention speculation (and concern) by analysts, business owners and the public over the state of the nation.

It also raises a complex question for massage therapists: How has the profession been affected?

A recent poll question on explored this issue, with results that may surprise you. (Editor's note: See "How has the current economic/political climate affected your massage practice?" online: Results of American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) 2002 Consumer Survey1 provide another glimpse into the state of the massage profession. The sixth annual survey, conducted by Opinion Research Corporation International in Princeton, N.J., polled a national probability sample of 1,021 American adults (511 men, 510 women), with results released in October 2002.

Presented below are some of the more interesting findings gleaned from the 2002 survey. Comprehensive results can be found on the AMTA Web site:

  • Five years ago, only 8% of adult Americans reported receiving a massage in the previous year; this number more than doubled by 2002 (18%). Equally as dramatic, more than one in four (28%) consumers reported they have received a massage from a massage therapist in the past five years, compared with only 17% in 1997.
  • The most dramatic increase in massage utilization involves seniors: while only 8% of Americans age 65 and older reported receiving a massage in the previous five years in the 1997 survey, that number nearly tripled to 21% as of 2002.
  • Three-quarters of consumers who reported discussing massage with a health care professional reported "favorable conversations," and more than half (57%) reported they received a recommendation to visit a massage therapist (30% from physicians, 27% from chiropractors). Even more encouraging, only 2% reported any negative conversation with their health care provider regarding massage.
  • More than one in four consumers (28%) reported being "greatly stressed" because of the current economic environment or the threat of war/terrorism; 57% said they would consider massage to relieve/manage stress.
  • Most Americans reported receiving their last massage at a spa (19%), massage therapy practice (13%) or their own home (11%), similar to 2001 consumer preferences. However, males changed their preferences in 2002: 17% received a massage at a spa, 17% in the therapist's office; and 14% at home. These figures contrast survey findings in 2001, which listed the home as the most common location for males to receive a massage (16%).
  • Just over half (51%) of consumers are interested in their health plan offering a discount system, whereby the consumer pays the massage therapist directly at a discount. This figure represents a fairly substantial increase from the 2001 survey (43%).

The AMTA's annual consumer survey provides an intriguing glimpse at the massage profession. It is encouraging to note that, despite the current uncertainty of the economic and political climate, massage therapy seems to be as popular and accepted as ever by the American public and other health professionals.


  1. 2002 Massage Therapy Consumer Survey Fact Sheet.

Editor's note: Synopses of the 2000 and 2001 AMTA Consumer Survey's are available online: and


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