Massage Can Relieve Workplace Pain and Stress – Massage Today
Massage TodaySeptember, 2013, Vol. 13, Issue 09
By Massage Therapy Foundation Contributor
Contributed by Jolie Haun, PhD, EdS, MK Brennan, MS, RN, LMBT and April V. Neufeld, BS, LMT When we think of massage, we often think of spa and clinical care settings. In this month’s research review, sponsored by the Massage Therapy Foundation, we take a closer look at an article by Back and colleagues who examined the impact of massage therapy as an intervention for healthcare providers in the workplace.
Back and colleagues report that healthcare is the second largest industry in Canada with a high incidence of occupational injury and illness. Particularly, long-term care staff suffers from high levels of musculoskeletal injuries, resulting in high rates of back-related worker’s compensation claims. Despite decades of research, these work-related musculoskeletal injuries remain an unsolved problem. Yet, studies with on-site massage therapy programs in healthcare demonstrate that these programs have a positive impact. While past interventions focused on physical factors in the reduction of musculoskeletal injuries, Back and colleagues explored the effects of a massage-based wellness intervention that focused on psychological well-being and physical health.
The pilot program evaluated the efficacy of on-site massage therapy on outcomes including job satisfaction and workplace stress, as measured by work culture, job demands, social interaction, control at work, as well as pain and discomfort levels, as measured by pain severity, pain interference, pain relief and massage therapy perceptions.
Six matched questionnaires were distributed: three pre-intervention (Q1, Q2, and Q3) and three post-intervention (Q4, Q5, and Q6) during an approximate six month period. Using the questionnaires, organizational culture, job demand and social interactions were evaluated. Additionally, two of the questionnaires, Q3 and Q6, also included a pain inventory. One hundred and seven employees participated in the Q1 survey, which determined staff preference for each wellness program. Massage therapy was the most preferred relaxation modality and was subsequently offered to 145 healthcare workers immediately after Q3.
Participants were allowed to sign up for one 20-minute massage therapy session each week. The time taken for the massage was a paid break in addition to the employee’s regular break times. Massage therapy sessions were offered for four weeks at the facility by one of four Registered Massage Therapists. Participants received up to four sessions of massage therapy over a four-week period. Participants did not necessarily receive treatment from the same therapist in all their sessions. The massage therapy was performed with participants fully clothed, sitting prone on a massage chair. Therapists used tapotement, effleurage, petrissage, passive stretching, grade 1 or 2 joint mobilization and traction, as well as active and passive range of motion. Treatment was limited to the neck, shoulders, upper back, lower back and arms; techniques reflected those for the purposes of general relaxation.
Findings indicate that the average number of participants receiving massage therapy sessions increased each week (except in between weeks two and three): 17.4% (week one), 25.7% (week two), 19.4% (week three) and 37.5% (week four).