Massage & Bodywork

March/April 2012

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education PATHOLOGY PERSPECTIVES | BODY AWARENESS | FUNCTIONAL ANATOMY | SOMATIC RESEARCH This edition of Massage & Bodywork is focused largely on aspects of the exploding and thrilling field of massage therapy research. For Pathology Perspectives, I will follow the theme by discussing why making declarative cause- and-effect statements about massage is so difficult. To do that, we need to review a little bit of research vocabulary. Half the battle in learning how to become comfortable in this world of research is dealing with the language, so here are just a few terms that have very specific meanings. Reach Out to Researchers By Ruth Werner EFFICACY STUDIES The study of the efficacy of a given intervention asks the question, "Does this work under these specific circumstances, and if it does, how well does it work?" Efficacy studies look at a particular intervention in a controlled setting in an effort to limit the influence of variables or confounds that might alter the results. A shortcoming of this type of study is the regimentation of technique: "six bilateral strokes of effleurage followed by 2 minutes of petrissage and 5 minutes of friction on the paraspinals" has little to do with what really happens in a professional massage setting. Not surprisingly, the results of massage therapy studies in this model—if there are any results at all—tend not to be strong. Efficacy studies by definition are narrow in scope, but they do open the door to other types of research that can pursue whether real-world 38 massage & bodywork march/april 2012

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