Massage therapy services for healthcare

Massage therapy services for healthcare: A telephone focus group study of drivers for clients’ continued use

Joanna M. Smith a, b, John Sullivan b and G. David Baxter b

a Massage Department, Southern Institute of Technology, Private Bag 90114, Invercargill 9840, New Zealand
b Centre for Physiotherapy Research, School of Physiotherapy, University of Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand


To explore opinions of why clients use, value and continue to seek massage therapy as a healthcare option.

Telephone focus group methodology was used. Current and repeat users (n = 19) of either relaxation, remedial or sports massage therapy services participated in three telephone focus groups. Audiotaped semi-structured interviews were conducted.

Telephone focus group with massage clients from provincial and urban localities in New Zealand.

Main outcome measures
Summary of reported themes of the massage experience and suggested drivers for return to, or continuing with massage therapy. Data were transcribed, categorised (NVivo7) and thematically analysed using the general inductive approach.

Key drivers for return to, or continuing with, massage therapy were: positive outcomes, expectations of goals being met, a regular appointment and the massage therapy culture.

Massage therapy is perceived and valued as a personalised, holistic and hands-on approach to health management, which focuses on enhancing relaxation in conjunction with effective touch, within a positive client–therapist relationship and a pleasant non-rushed environment. Massage therapy as a health service is result and client driven but is reinforced by the culture of the experience.