The study by Australian Research Centre in Complementary and Integrative Medicine (ARCCIM) at University of Technology Sydney (UTS) involved 1800 women.
It found that more than 50% had consulted a massage therapist in the previous 12 months.
Women who reported significant pain problems consulted a massage therapist five or more times in the past 12 months compared to women who did not consult a massage therapist frequently.
Women who reported feeling significantly lower emotionally also consulted a massage therapist regularly compared to women who did not consult a massage therapist.
Prof. Jon Adams, Professor of Public Health at UTS, said, “The association between increased visits to a massage therapist and body pain may indicate that women consult with a massage therapist to manage bodily pain.
“Encouragingly this association is supported by a number of studies including a Cochrane review, which found that massage therapy may reduce low-back pain without adverse events (Furlan et al., 2008).
“It is also likely that in addition to relieving body pain, the immediate effects of inducing relaxation and improving mood may be common reasons for consulting a massage therapist.”
Professor Adams said it appeared that some women use the services of both a conventional health practitioner and a massage therapist.
Studies conducted in Australia and overseas, found that women who experience chronic body pain prefer using both conventional treatments alongside complementary health services, such as massage therapy, to cope with their condition.
Studies have shown Australian GPs regularly refer patients to a massage therapist with Australian qualifications occasionally to weekly. Current research points to the very specific and important role of massage therapists within the health care system.
A spokesperson for Massage & Myotherapy Australia welcomed the research findings as encouraging more recognition for the role of qualified massage therapists, and support from funding bodies such as the Medical Research Futures Fund.
“As one of the most used and largest complementary health services, thousands of Australians access massage therapy every day for a variety of conditions including pain management, injury recovery and improved mobility, as well as stress, tension and addiction rehabilitation support,” said CEO Tricia Hughes.