Research: MOYER and colleagues,

Listed in Issue 100


MOYER and colleagues, Department of Educational Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL 61820-6990, USA, have performed a meta-analysis of massage therapy research.


Massage therapy is an ancient form of therapy that is becoming ever more popular. This study aimed to analyze the combined data of studies that used random assignment to test the effectiveness of massage.


Mean effect sizes were calculated from 37 studies for 9 dependent variables.


Single massage sessions reduced anxiety, blood pressure, and heart rate but not negative mood, pain, and cortisol levels. Several sessions reduced delayed assessment of pain and cortisol levels. Cortisol levels were not examined in the multiple-dose category. In the multiple dose category, there were significant reductions in delayed assessment of pain, in trait anxiety, and in depression. Reductions of anxiety and depression were the largest effects of massage therapy, with a course of treatment providing benefits similar in magnitude to those of psychotherapy. None of the moderator variables were statistically significant though continued testing is needed.


The authors discuss the limitations of a medical model of massage therapy and propose that theories and research had better use a psychotherapeutic perspective.


Moyer CA, Rounds J, Hannum JW. A meta-analysis of massage therapy research. Psychological Bulletin 130 (1): 3-18, Jan 2004.


The positive therapeutic effects of massage regarding blood pressure, heart rate, as well as upon anxiety and depression demonstrate the benefits of massage and suggest its clinical use be widened within the practice of medicine.

ICAN 2024 Skyscraper

Scientific and Medical Network 2

Cycle Around the World for Charity 2023

Climb Mount Kilimanjaro Charity 2023

top of the page