Inquiring Minds Want to Know

I’ve spent the past couple of weekends teaching at AMTA meetings; first in SC and this past week in Alaska. One of the classes I taught at both meetings was “Using Research to Market Your Massage Therapy Practice.” I’ve been on my research soapbox for a while now. The big question is, “Who gives a flip about research?” My answer to that is, inquiring minds want to know.

Except when they don’t want to know. Consider this: IF research validates an idea, a theory, or a belief you’ve had, doesn’t that make you happy? Don’t you want to give a thumbs-up and shout “Yes! I knew it all the time!” That would make anyone feel good, wouldn’t it?

So when research shows something that’s contrary to what we believe, we don’t like that. We don’t want to accept it. We don’t want to listen to it. We want to act as if it doesn’t exist, or that it applies to everyone except us.

I’ve been surfing PubMed this afternoon and reading interesting studies. I don’t have any research to back it up, but my educated guess is that maybe, just maybe, 20% of massage therapists actually read research studies…or even know what the difference is in a peer-reviewed study performed within the parameters of scientifically accepted procedures, as opposed to website hype making all kinds of unfounded claims.

I’ve also been on a roll lately looking at some of the more dubious products that are out there that massage therapists buy into, and foist upon the uninformed public. Some of my favorite (NOT!) claims are: Causes detoxification. Regulates the endocrine system. Flushes your lymphatic system. Gets rid of cellulite once and for all. Causes you to lose weight without making any effort. Contains negative ions. Balances your chakras while simultaneously regenerating your brain cells and your liver and revitalizing your sex drive. Makes your body totally alkaline. Connects more strands of your DNA…I could go on all day, but you get the picture.

Most people, if they’re going to buy a new car, do a little research…they want to know the gas mileage, the safety rating, the bells and whistles they get for the money they’re paying. And they wouldn’t buy a house without checking out the foundation and whether or not there’s mold in the basement. But the same people will buy some whacky, over-priced gizmo that doesn’t have any basis in reality and couldn’t possibly do all, if any, of what it claims to do, without doing any research at all, other than reading the hype that appears on the website or listening to the sales pitch at a multi-level marketing meeting.

The sad thing is, I don’t think most of these people are just seeing the dollar signs and thinking about how much money they can bilk clients out of. They just fall into believing these things actually work.

The Code of Ethics states that we are to avoid giving treatment when there is no benefit to the client and the only benefit is our own financial gain. It would serve everyone to think about that the next time they’re tempted to spend money on frivolous products with no proven benefits. If YOU want to lay out the big bucks for something and use it on YOURSELF, that’s one thing, but when you make claims to clients that this (machine, product, supplement, etc) is going to change their life, cure their disease, get rid of their pain, or whatever, that’s a clear-cut violation and one that you ought to be aware of. Do the research. Don’t just fall for every word on the company’s website and repeat that to the client like it’s fact. It isn’t.