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Types of Massage Therapy Outcomes

Clinical Outcomes:


A clinical outcome is a change in a patient’s signs and symptoms, mental state, or ability to cope. Clinical outcomes are changes in the effects of a disease, injury, or exercise on how a person functions. A clinical outcome tells us whether massage helps or “works.

  • Clinical outcomes are often measured with client self-reports (“My pain is better”), questionnaires, or scales (“My pain is a 3 on a 0-10 scale”).
  • Some are “objective” third-party observations: function, range of motion,results from palpation, athletic performance, or observations by nurses.”   Tracy Walton.  5 Myths and Truths about Massage. (PDF)

Mechanistic Outcomes

What are Mechanistic Outcomes?
A mechanistic outcome is a change in a biological substance, mechanism, or pathway. A mechanistic outcome or mechanism of action may explain how massage works.
●In massage therapy, researchers looking at biochemical changes are measuring mechanistic outcomes.
●Examples of mechanistic outcomes are changes in epinephrine, dopamine, serotonin, blood sugar, endorphin levels, cortisol, and even changes in gene expression.
●Mechanistic studies of massage might involve samples
of saliva, blood, urine, or tissue.
●Ultrasound and other imaging can help us examine mechanisms of action.Tracy Walton.  5 Myths and Truths about Massage. (PDF)


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