The Direction of the Profession: AMTA 2001 Consumer Survey

By Editorial Staff

The Direction of the Profession: AMTA 2001 Consumer Survey

By Editorial Staff

The massage therapy community understands and appreciates the power of touch, but what does the public think? Look no further than the American Massage Therapy Association's annual consumer survey.

In the January 2001 issue of Massage Today, we reported the results of the AMTA's 2000 Consumer Survey. (Editor's note: See "AMTA Survey Reveals Trends in Massage" on line at That survey revealed, among other interesting trends, that 16% of adult Americans received one or more massages in 2001 - nearly double the reported figure in 1997.

Another year means another annual consumer survey from the AMTA; once again, the findings emphasize the continuing growth of and interest in the massage therapy profession. The survey, conducted July 26-29, with results recently released by the AMTA, polled a national sample of 1,000 U.S. adults (501 men, 499 women). What follows is a synopsis of some of the survey's major findings:

  • Sixty-two percent of adults surveyed said that massage is "beneficial."
  • Seventeen percent of adult Americans reported receiving one or more massages in the previous year, up one percent from 2000 (16%).
  • Twenty-four percent of those polled said they anticipated receiving a massage in the next 12 months, compared to only 21% in 2000 who expected to do so.
  • As in 2000, most people who visited massage therapists did so for medical reasons. Thirty-five percent said they received their last massage for medical reasons: muscle soreness/stiffness/spasm; pain reduction/management; injury recovery and rehabilitation; improvement of joint flexibility; etc.
  • Twenty-one percent of adult Americans said they would seek therapeutic massage for relaxation; 10 percent mentioned stress reduction as their rationale for receiving massage. These figures are comparable to the 2000 figures (20% and 10%, respectively.

The 2001 survey also included a variety of data relating to socioeconomic aspects of massage therapy, providing information on such topics as public and provider perceptions; health insurance coverage; service availability; etc. Specifically:

  • More than half of those surveyed said that massage therapists are "providers of a stress-reducing service outside of medicine." However, 31% said that massage therapists are health care professionals, and 34% view massage therapists as complementary members of a health care team.
  • Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed would like their health insurance to cover massage, and 53% said they would be more inclined to receive a massage regularly if it was covered by insurance. On the other hand, 35% were willing to pay extra for massage as an addition to their health insurance policy, and 21% were willing to pay higher premiums to their health plan to cover massage benefits.
  • Day spas proved the most common site for Americans to receive massage (17% of those polled). Fourteen percent reported receiving massage in the massage therapist's office, while 10% said they received massage in their own home. If given the option, most of those who see massage as beneficial would prefer to receive massage in their homes.
  • Thirty-six percent said that cost is the primary reason they don't receive massage regularly.

This is the fifth annual survey of American consumers commissioned by the AMTA. Many of these findings are similar to last year's results, but the general trends noted in the past five years reinforce the increasing popularity of massage therapy and the issues facing the profession, now and in the years to come. Of particular interest are the findings with regard to consumer perceptions on the role of massage therapists in the health care community and its inclusion in insurance coverage. Constructive debate of these and other issues germane to massage therapy are integral to continuing growth within the profession.

To view the comprehensive results of the 2001 AMTA Consumer Survey, visit the AMTA's website:


  1. 2001 Massage Therapy Consumer Fact Sheet. Available on line at