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Ok so I sort of get the idea of research but I am research illiterate!

From my last post that created quite a stir, I have a new concept of research and the importance of it but now I see that my last post was more that I was and still am research illiterate! I was able to attend a great conference here in Seattle (OK I couldn't not go since it was a block away from my office) put on by the Massage Therapy Foundation called Highlighting
Massage Therapy in Complementary and Integrative Medicine (CIM)
Research” conference with a special focus on translational research and public health.

Translational Research (TR) means from the Massage Therapy Foundation Website:

TR transforms scientific discoveries arising from laboratory, clinical, or population studies into clinical applications. In this equal parts
approach,
researchers have access to clinical information and practitioners feed
information back to researchers on the clinical relevance of discoveries.

OK I still don't really know what it all means! I didn't see any way to take some of the studies presented and put them into practice. Maybe that would have been the more hands on presentations that I didn't go to.

What I did get is a new appreciation for being in WA State. One of the panels on the first morning included Debra Senn who was the past insurance commissioner that made it possible for MT and other CAM providers to become contracted providers with major medical like Blue Cross and be able to bill and get paid by them! The thing that confuses me still is that didn't come about by having research on massage. It really started because Debra Senn was a big believer in massage and had one of the most prominent people from our profession here in WA -Lori Belinski as her massage therapist. Lori was a lobbyist for MT in WA and an avid member of AMTA. She now works for the chiropractic association. So what I know of the whole process was that Senn just created this law called the Every Category Law and it took 6 years, 11 law suits to get it accepted and then 5 different times of having it challenged. It is still going today which means I can still bill companies like Aetna, Blue Cross, Blue Shield and all of the other companies as long as I am a provider. One of the other things though are that most of the provider lists are closed so if you are just starting out you can't get on them!

Anyways - I thought that the whole conference could have been about just that - how can we get insurance companies in other states to do that for massage. Here in WA because of that and also the fact that our licensing is done through the Board of Health makes us Health care practitioners. I don't think it is the same in every state although some do have licensing through the board of health.

So back to the research conference....I really didn't understand what most of the keynote speakers were talking about. To me it seemed like it was all about them but then again as I said I am research illiterate. I really should have had some more training to understand more. I could actually see a whole conference on just teaching research literacy - teaching how to look at a study and learn what it all means. From what little that I did get - just having one study show something does not really mean anything. What it does is gives us more to research!

The biggest reason I can see for promoting research literacy and getting more research done is to get more clients! Yes. If we can have more research showing just how effective massage is and then get it into the doctors hands and also learn how to present it to clients - massage can someday just be a widely accepted service - sort of like going for an oil change. You know it will help the longevity of your car.

So I am on a path of learning about research and hopefully sharing what I learn along the way. I have started blogging about it and I know that there are many sites in development to help you learn which I will also be talking about. For now you can start with Vlads site - www.mt-online.com and start posting questions and comments about the various research that she has posted.

Here is my research tread on www.thebodyworker.com. I have some posts on the general overviews of the conference and will be adding more thoughts as I process the whole weekend and my learning. And I am sure I will see you all at the next one -whenever that is - right?!

Thanks much for reading!
Julie Onofrio
www.thebodyworker.com
www.massage-career-guides.com

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Comment by Bodhi Haraldsson on May 25, 2010 at 1:49pm
I prefer the term "levels of evidence", as the term "proof" is loaded and not very useful. By using levels of evidence we describe how much or how little we know about certain topics.

Your comment about insurance coverage and research is partially true. Research on its own will not convince politicians and insurance companies to cover massage therapy costs. Research how-ever does play a significant role in it. We live in a world were money is the name of the game (those that have it, those that want it etc..). It would be childish to think that research was the holy grail and will solve all of our troubles. We are competing with other professions for the same health care dollars. These professions have research and political connections, if we lack one of these it will make our advancement even harder.
Comment by Christopher A. Moyer on May 22, 2010 at 6:32am
Sufficient proof* - it depends what outcome we are talking about. There is a fair amount of research showing that massage therapy reduces anxiety, enough that I'd consider it proven. For other outcomes - say, improvement of immune system functioning - there is little if any proof.

The situation with massage therapy isn't really any different than for any other form of treatment. How do we know that aspirin reduces headache, that antibiotics can cure bacterial infections, or that cognitive behavioral therapy can reduce depression? Because a body of research has shown that they do these things. In some cases the amount of research is very large, but in some other cases you might be surprised by how small it is.

*If "proof" implies too much certainty for your taste, feel free to replace it with "evidence" in what is written above.
Comment by Vlad on May 20, 2010 at 9:20pm
Julie,
I had written a big long snore-making reply on here, but deleted it!
I'm glad to see you blogging about the need for research literacy!
I'm going to post more at the weekend, I've just been up to my eyes this week (and I will link to your site from mine - honest). I'll be putting at least 2 more blogs on my wee site about the conference.
One will be on how we do it (research, that is, but you never know what else might crop up) and the other one will be on case reports.

okey doke.
Comment by Julie Onofrio on May 20, 2010 at 3:11pm
I am not sure on that but that would be good to know more about so other states could learn from it all. But I still don't think there is research that 'proves' that massage works does it. Does one or two studies make it so or just make it look promising???

Is there enough research to prove to ins. companies and ins. commissioners, and doctors that massage is a valid method? I don't really know the answer to that.

Thanks
Julie
Comment by Christopher A. Moyer on May 20, 2010 at 3:00pm
One of the panels on the first morning included Debra Senn who was the past insurance commissioner that made it possible for MT and other CAM providers to become contracted providers with major medical like Blue Cross and be able to bill and get paid by them! The thing that confuses me still is that didn't come about by having research on massage. It really started because Debra Senn was a big believer in massage... Senn just created this law called the Every Category Law and it took 6 years, 11 law suits to get it accepted and then 5 different times of having it challenged...

A quick thought - possibly, it was able to withstand all those challenges because there is some research evidence for it.

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