A Qualitative Study of Registered Massage Therapists’ Experiences in Providing Cancer Care

Jennifer Lynch

Purpose: To explore registered massage therapists’ (RMTs) decisions to provide massage therapy for cancer patients.

Methods: A qualitative research approach guided two focus groups with eight RMTs. Questions focused on evidence for massage therapy and cancer care, evidence-based practice and barriers and facilitators in providing cancer care. Thematic analysis was applied to the data.

Findings: Themes identified included peripheralization of professional identity in the medical community, the application and reception of touch in cancer care, seeking professional acceptance through normative practice, and requiring a stronger educational foundation for professional credibility.

Conclusion: Massage therapy is important in improving the quality of life of cancer patients. Barriers to offering care need to be addressed through education of other practitioners and changes to the education of RMTs to enhance evidence-based practice.