Massage & Bodywork

JANUARY | FEBRUARY 2017

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46 m a s s a g e & b o d y w o r k j a n u a r y / f e b r u a r y 2 0 1 7 education SOMATIC RESEARCH According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs, there are more than 21 million veterans living in America today, and many have health issues that are not being resolved by traditional medicine. This is leading veterans toward self-care healing practices, as well as alternate forms of drug-free treatment such as massage therapy. In a recent study, researchers measured this use of complementary and alternative medicine (CA M) among active-duty military personnel compared to civilians. Demonstrating the discrepancy in health-care needs and choices between the two groups, this large-scale survey demonstrated that approximately 45 percent of military respondents used at least one form of CA M therapy within the previous year compared to only about 36 percent use within the civilian population. 1 The article continued by looking at the most common form of CA M used in the military group and found that the top treatments included prayer for one's own health used by 24.4 percent, massage used by 14.1 percent, and relaxation techniques used by 10.8 percent. Unfortunately, the majority of CA M treatments occurred outside of the military health-care system due to lack of coverage for such services. For example, an estimated 137,000 active military personnel received massage therapy by covering the costs themselves. A 2016 article studied CA M use in the military, focusing on veterans moving back into civilian life after returning from Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation New Dawn. In this study, predictors of CA M use were also measured, such as demographics, military experiences, and current mental and physical health. Results illustrated that 40.5 percent of veterans were found to have used CA M therapies in the past year, with massage (21 percent), chiropractic (15.9 percent), yoga (12.6 percent), and spiritual prayer Massage & the Military CAM Therapies for Those Who Serve By Jerrilyn Cambron, DC, PhD (12.5 percent) being the most commonly used. 2 This study confirmed the high percentage of alternative care used by people with military backgrounds and demonstrated an even higher rate of massage therapy use compared to the previous study. Each form of CA M care demonstrated different predictive characteristics. For example, the only statistically significant predictors for massage therapy care included being female, earning at least a bachelor's degree, and feeling as though they were generally treated fairly during their military experience. No other characteristic studied was associated with massage therapy care. In other words, massage appeared to be equally sought by veterans with varied demographic, health, and military characteristics. As demonstrated by these survey studies, a large percentage of active military personnel and veterans are seeking alternatives or additions to their health care. Interestingly, little is known about the disorders for which care is sought or the

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