Navigating Evidence-Based Massage Therapy: A Guide for RMTs

Navigating Evidence-Based Massage Therapy: A Guide for RMTs

Summary: Embracing evidence-based practice (EBP) empowers us to provide the best possible care. This article explores the integration of current scientific evidence, patient values and preferences, and our clinical expertise to ensure the delivery of safe, ethical, and effective care. Additionally, it provides tips for RMTs on staying updated with the latest research and incorporating new information into their practice.

At Intent Health Clinic, we firmly believe in aligning our approach with current scientific evidence to deliver evidence-based care. As RMTs, our responsibility is to provide safe, ethical, and effective care. Staying up-to-date with the highest quality evidence helps us practice in a manner that minimizes harm, fosters a positive client experience, and leads to the best possible outcomes.

However, like many other professions, massage therapy often holds on to historical beliefs, even when new information contradicts old ways of doing things. For instance, in the medical field, it can take up to 17 years for current research to be incorporated into clinical practice!

As RMTs, how can we make sure we are staying up-to-date, and how do we navigate the stress of sifting through new information and incorporating it into our practice? Change can be stressful; approaching it with curiosity, and together in community, can turn it into an exciting opportunity to learn more about how massage therapy works or discover the best approach to treating specific conditions.

High-quality evidence empowers us to deliver the best care possible, making the process of learning and incorporating new information worthwhile. Current evidence guides our assessment and treatment methods, how we communicate about the clients condition and how massage therapy works, and it also informs the homecare recommendations we provide for specific conditions.

What is evidence based practice in a massage therapy context?

Evidence-based practice rests on four pillars:

  1. Best Available Research: Scientific knowledge is always evolving so it’s important for practitioners to keep up with the latest high-quality research and question our biases when presented with new information. 
  2. Patient Values and Preferences: Being attentive listeners allows us to understand each patient's unique experience and collaborate with them to include their values, needs, and preferences in our approach to treatment and homecare.
  3. The RMT’s Clinical Expertise: Drawing on our experience as healthcare providers, we incorporate our knowledge into treatment options and recommendations, complementing the other pillars of evidence-based care. 
  4. The RMT's Practice Context: Considering our practice context, including scope of practice and available tools, further informs our decision-making.

A call to action from our regulatory body

The College of Massage Therapists of BC’s Evidence-Based Practice - Standard of Practice, published in January 2024, issues an exciting call to action. It emphasizes the expectation for RMTs to critically assess information, focusing on facts and observations rather than beliefs, opinions, and traditions. RMTs are urged to remain responsive to new knowledge throughout their careers, integrating information to inform clinical decision-making while considering its impact on individual patients.

How do we know what the best research is?

To evaluate research quality, consider the image below:

From: 5 Myths and Truths About Massage Therapy

Recognizing biases in research studies can be challenging, so joining online communities, attending conferences, and learning alongside colleagues can be valuable resources. At Intent Health, for instance, we host online learning sessions for our RMTs to learn about current research. 

Here are some additional resources: 

Intent Health's Approach

At Intent Health, our RMTs incorporate the highest quality research, along with their clinical experience, and take into account your needs, values and preferences to ensure that we’re providing you with the best care possible. And we have fun learning together!

Check out our blog posts on the current evidence behind various massage techniques and learn more about how massage works.

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