Massage Today
Massage Today dotted line
dotted line

dotted line
Share |
  Forward PDF Version  
Massage Today
May, 2003, Vol. 03, Issue 05

Spotlight on Research

By Editorial Staff

Editor's note: This periodic column keeps you abreast of the latest research documenting the benefits of massage and bodywork. Published research is summarized, with references to the full study text provided; abstracts of research projects planned or in progress are reproduced verbatim whenever possible.

Factors associated with choice of massage therapy in a trial of treatments of acute low-back pain.
Diana Post, MD; Andrea Hrbek; Maureen T.

Connelly, MD, MPH; Anna Legedza, ScD; Roger B. Davis, ScD; Russell Phillips, MD; Daniel Cherkin, PhD; David M. Eisenberg, MD

Purpose: The majority of patients in a randomized clinical trial (RCT) of conventional allopathic care ("usual care") versus a choice of therapies for acute low-back pain expressed a preference for massage therapy (MT) over acupuncture (Acu), chiropractic (Chiro) or usual care. We sought to understand whether those choosing MT differed in demographic characteristics or self-reported pain severity scores from those choosing any of the other three subjects.

Methods: Eligible subjects were adult members of a multispecialty medical practice who had uncomplicated acute low- back pain for less than three weeks with no co-morbid explanation for symptoms. Baseline data were obtained by face-to-face interview at enrollment. Enrollees were randomized to either usual care or to a choice of Acu, Chiro, MT or usual care. Prior to randomization, all enrollees were asked which treatment they would select if randomized to the choice group. Since most enrollees chose MT, we used MT versus all other choices as a dichotomous dependent variable in a logistic regression. Demographic and pain factors were included in this model to examine whether they were associated with massage choice.

Results: Of 2,262 subjects screened for enrollment, 477 were eligible; of those, 293 enrolled. Fifty-one percent were women; 63% were white; 57% were college graduates; and 33% earned >$75,000/year. The average age was 43 years, and the mean self-reported pain scale (0-10) was 7.23 (SD=2.13). The majority (52%) expressed a preference for MT; 18% preferred Acu; 24% preferred Chiro; and 6% preferred usual care. Other than age, (subjects aged 40-49 were less likely than other age groups to select MT; odds ratio = 1.78, 95% CI=[1.08, 2.92]), neither pain scores nor any other demographic variable were associated with the choice of MT. For those subjects randomized to the choice group, 86% of those who expressed a preference for MT select it as their treatment, indicating a high reliability of expressed preference for treatment with actual selection.

Conclusions: Prior research has shown gender, education and income to be associated with higher utilization of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM); however, none of these variables predicted preference for massage therapy in our study. It appears the appeal of massage therapy is not restricted to any particular socioeconomic group, and therefore might be broadly accepted as a treatment option for back pain. Beyond demographics and baseline pain scales, further exploration of variables driving patient choices and examination of effectiveness and economics, will be important to evaluate massage therapy in the management of acute low back pain.

Massage therapy as a technique for coping with stress.
Sheleigh Lawler and Linda Cameron, in collaboration with the New Zealand College of Massage

This study assessed the effectiveness of massage therapy as an intervention for coping with stress in 34 healthy university students approaching final examinations. Participants were randomly assigned to an attention control condition (watching three different television programs) or to a massage therapy group in which each participant received one 45-minute massage per week for three consecutive weeks.

Measures of blood pressure, heart rate and state anxiety (State Trait Anxiety Inventory - short form) were taken before and after each session. Stress (Perceived Stress Scale) and coping (Coping Efficacy) were measured three times at baseline (T1), immediately after the three sessions (T2) and at one-week follow-up (T3).

Both groups reported lower anxiety after each of the sessions; however, the massage group experienced a greater reduction, compared to the television group (p<.05). Participants in the massage group also experienced reduced heart rate after each of the massages, whereas the television group showed no change (p<.05). There were no significant differences in systolic and diastolic blood pressure between groups. At T2, the massage group reported a significant decrease in perceived stress and an increase in coping efficacy (p>.05); however, by T3 these effects were no longer evident. Implications for stress and coping from a self-regulatory perspective will be discussed using Leventhal's Parallel Response Model (1997).

Editor's note: Both of the above abstracts were presented at the 2002 AMTA National Convention; they appear in Massage Today with permission from the respective authors.

Correction: In the first installment of this column (Feb. 2003), we referenced Marian Wolfe Dixon's abstract, "Developing a Massage Protocol for research of temporomandibular Joint Disorders," as funded by the AMTA Foundation. Ms. Dixon's research and resulting abstract were actually funded by a developmental grant from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), a branch of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).


Join the conversation
Comments are encouraged, but you must follow our User Agreement
Keep it civil and stay on topic. No profanity, vulgar, racist or hateful comments or personal attacks. Anyone who chooses to exercise poor judgement will be blocked. By posting your comment, you agree to allow MPA Media the right to republish your name and comment in additional MPA Media publications without any notification or payment.
comments powered by Disqus
dotted line