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Int J Ther Massage Bodywork. 2019 Mar 4;12(1):29-39. eCollection 2019 Mar.

What Should We Do Different, More, Start and Stop? Systematic Collection and Dissemination of Massage Education Stakeholder Views from the 2017 Alliance for Massage Therapy Educational Congress.

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Department of Health Sciences, Indiana University School of Health and Human Sciences-IUPUI, Indianapolis, IN, USA.
Australian Research Centre in Complementary and Integrative Medicine (ARCCIM), Broadway NSW, Australia.
Massage of Northern Ohio Practice Based Research Network, Cleveland, OH, USA.



The Future of MT and Bodywork Forum, held July 27 during the 2017 Alliance for Massage Therapy Education (AFMTE) Educational Congress in Tucson, Arizona, systematically gathered the thoughts and opinions of various massage education stakeholders through an exercise following the principles of the World Café model.


Forum attendees participated in three, concurrent 30-minute Breakout Group Sessions (Rounds) in three different adjacent rooms, focused on Continuing Education, Schools, or Employment. During each session, participants rotated for 3, 2.5, 2, and 1.5 minutes between four tables, asking what should be stopped, started, done differently, or changed in massage education related to the focus topic. Participants recorded their responses in marker on large Post-it® notes (3M, Maplewood, MN). These were reviewed by each of that round's participants who awarded "importance points" to each response, with 6 blue and 3 orange dots each worth 1 and 3 points, respectively. The Post-it® notes with comments and point allocations were transcribed into a data spreadsheet and analyzed for descriptive statistics and top scoring comments from each room.


85-91 attendees participated in the three breakout sessions resulting in 674 comments with 3,744 assigned value points. The top five scoring comments from each room per session (N = 45) determined stakeholder's most critical views. Stop comments made up the smallest total comments proportion (19%), yet largest top scoring comment proportion (36%)-potentially highlighting unified frustration for various massage education practices. Comparatively, Start comments made up 26% of total comments, but the smallest highest scoring proportion (18%)-perhaps suggesting stakeholders feel it more important to improve what is already being done rather than beginning new endeavors in these areas.


Stakeholder opinions on the future of massage therapy education can be systematically gathered in large conference settings and organized, analyzed, and disseminated to inform field decision-making.


REDCap; community participatory research; massage education; massage policy; massage regulation; massage standards; medical-based massage therapy; therapeutic massage


Conflict of interest statement

CONFLICT OF INTEREST NOTIFICATION The Alliance for Massage Therapy Education (AFMTE) hosted The Future of MT and Bodywork Forum and approved the forum exercise described in the manuscript. All data organization, analysis, and interpretation occurred independent of AFMTE or other massage therapy professional affiliations. Financial support for author JDD’s work on the project was awarded by the IUPUI Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP). Author NM is a Kentucky state licensed massage therapist, Massage Therapy Foundation Trustee, AMTA member, and ACIH Research Work Group member. Author DM was a member of the AFMTE Congress Planning Committee and is a NCBTMB Board Certified Massage Therapist, ABMP member, and ACIH Education Work Group member.

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