Setting the Groundwork for Evidence-Based Massage

Evidence-based massage therapy is an approach based on three principles (best available evidence, clinical expertise and patient values).

Setting the Groundwork for Evidence-Based Massage Therapy

Being a recognized treatment option for people in pain means the profession of massage therapy is moving into new formal settings. As this shift occurs, it is important that therapists adhere to evidence-based medicine and use critical thinking and research literacy skills. In the early 1990’s David Sackett and Gordon Guyatt introduced evidence-based medicine (EBM) as the conscientious use of current best evidence in making decisions about patient care. It is a process intended to reduce the risk of harm and improve decision-making by emphasizing the use of evidence from well-designed research. This includes the use of logical reasoning and the gathering of ideas and knowledge from many overlapping disciplines.

• Patient Values – The needs and requests of your patient will influence your decision making. Therapists need to be able to hear the patient’s values and create a working relationship with the patient. Shared-decision making will include developing a plan of care based on individualized goals and needs of the patient.

Research Evidence – Research helps guide clinical decisions and to warn of known harm, the higher the quality of the evidence the more confident we can be as a therapist making an informed decision.

• Clinical Expertise – Clinical experience is used to create individualized treatment plans as patient presentation will vary on a case by case basis. Making sound decisions requires the clinician to assess the patient’s personal, social, and clinical context and integrate this information with the values and preferences of the informed patient. The therapist will use his/her clinical expertise and allow the evidence to guide this process, rather than dictate it.

Key Takeaways

Evidence-based medicine integrates research evidence with clinical expertise and patient values to achieve the best possible patient management, while minimizing the potential for harm. The widespread adoption of evidence-based practice has led to improved healthcare and a cohesive approach essential for improving patient outcomes.

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Evidence-Based Massage Therapy by Richard Lebert is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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