Research and Massage Therapy

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There is a professional expectation that as a massage therapist you will stay up-to-date with the most recent research in your field and in related medical fields. This unit will help you better appreciate and evaluate those studies. (Please use Google Chrome when testing. Safari is incompatible with our test site.)


Research and Massage Therapy Course Outline (4 CEUs):
  • Chapter One: What is Research?

With increased digitization of our lives, and constant availability of the internet via our ever-present smartphones, the nature of research is changing. However, the definition of research remains the same: according to the University of California San Diego, research is “...a systematic inquiry that investigates hypotheses, suggests new interpretations of data or texts, and poses new questions for future research to explore.”i

  • Chapter Two: What Are the Purposes?

When beginning a research project, it is necessary to identify the purpose of the process. Are you looking to simply answer a question, or are you looking for a solution to a problem that you can apply to a complex community or business? This chapter helps you address these questions.

  • Chapter Three: The Four Approaches to Formal Research

There are four main approaches to research (with medical, and massage therapy, research being an offshoot of one of the main approaches). These are Quantitative, Qualitative, Pragmatic, and Emancipatory. As each purpose of research boils down to answering a question, each approach to research does, as well. The varying research approaches simply alter the path you take to get to that answer.

  • Chapter Four: Healthcare Research Methods

The practice of medicine is based on applied clinical research, which combines laboratory findings with clinical experience. Findings in applied clinical research affect diagnostics, treatments, and prevention of disease and disorders. Taking research findings from the lab to the clinic is done via transitional research (or transitional science). Other methods apart from applied clinical research and transitional research are also discussed in this chapter.

  • Chapter Five: Research Design

The problem you’re researching should determine the design of your research, not the other way around. A “research design” is the “overall strategy that you choose to integrate the different components of the study in a coherent and logical way, thereby, ensuring you will effectively address the research problem; it constitutes the blueprint for the collection, measurement, and analysis of data.”ii

  • Chapter Six: Research Ethics

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences defines ethics as “norms for conduct that distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable behavior.”iii Researchers must follow a number of ethical guidelines as outlined by their employer, scientific body (such as the American Psychological Association), as well as by local, state, and federal governments.

  • Chapter Seven: Research and Massage Therapy

The ultimate question is: when are you ever going to use this information? As a massage therapist, you will encounter research at several points in your career. Of course, during your initial training you may be required to do research projects. During your career, you will need to do research for continuing education studies.




i UC San Diego Undergraduate Research Portal,


ii University of South Carolina,


iii Resnik, David B. “What is Ethics In Research & Why Is It Important?” National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences



Continuing education units (CEUs) are provided via electronic download in PDF format. Review the course work at your own pace and then take the included test online. You can print your certificate immediately after passing each test! All coursework is NCBTMB approved (NCBTMB # 451897-12). NOTE: Each state has different requirements. Please be sure to check our state requirements page and contact your state to verify your requirements.