Massage Therapy: Integrating Research and Practice

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Book Review of “ Massage Therapy: Integrating Research and Practice “
Edited by Christopher A Moyer and Trish Dryden.
For many of us the idea of reading or writing research is intimidating. But
whether you spend hours each week on Pubmed, or you have no idea what a “pubmed” is, this book is a must for you.
Massage Therapy: Integrating Research and Practice (MT:IRP) opens with an interesting history of massage in western culture followed by a chapter that touches on the differences between evidenced-based and outcome-based approaches to massage therapy. Next are three comprehensive but easy to follow chapters on what quantitative (anything you can count), qualitative (word based experiential and observational data) and mixed methods measurements are and why we should use them. The book also has a chapter that clearly explains statistical measures, and what the heck mean median, mode and P values are.
MT:IRP then switches to an overview on the best research for different populations and conditions. Although all were of good value, I found these chapters to vary somewhat in quality with some of the information misleading or outdated. Some of the highlights for me were: Pediatrics, Pregnancy, Athletes, Neck Pain, Anxiety and Fibromyalgia. Each chapter finishes with a case study that shows how we can use research to treat a patient of the population presented within that chapter.
Part four of the book is about connecting research and practice. There is a great chapter on how to integrate research in education followed by another fantastic one on how to bring research into the clinic. If you are interested in submitting case reports or writing journal articles this is laid out for you as well.
Part five ends the book with a look at the future directions for MT. There is some good insight here. I agree that we need to start to shift from an empirical model of learning towards a measurable and repeatable method of treatment. In no means should we drop the art of what we do. The book argues that research will deepen our knowledge and understanding so we can consistently repeat what we do well, and help discern why we don’t always succeed. A repeated theme of this book is that we do not have enough information on what adverse effects massage therapy can produce. If we do not start to show that a skilled clinician is the safe and effective bet for rehab, how can we maintain our position against unregistered body workers?
I think this book is a must for any clinician. As a profession, we need to better integrate research into our practice. We must better understand how we can effectively use this growing evidence that is available to us or we may, as a profession, become redundant. By having a good eye for quality research, we can better ourselves for those hard cases ahead.
As an educator at a massage college, I feel this imperative tool will help future RMTs understand how to not only read research but to incorporate research into practice.

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This is the most important Massage Therapy textbook to be published to date.

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