A pragmatic investigation into the effects of massage therapy on the self efficacy of multiple sclerosis clients

J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2014 Jan;18(1):11-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2013.04.001. Epub 2013 May 13.


Objective: This research was conducted to examine changes in self self-efficacy, (the perception/belief that one can competently cope with a challenging situation) in multiple sclerosis clients following a series of massage therapy treatments.

Method: This small practical trial investigated the effects of a pragmatic treatment protocol using a prospective randomized pretest posttest waitlist control design. Self-Efficacy scores were obtained before the first treatment, mid-treatment series, after the last treatment in the series, four weeks after the final treatment and again eight weeks after the final treatment had been received.

Intervention: The intervention involved a series of weekly one hour therapeutic massage treatments conducted over eight weeks and a subsequent eight week follow up period. All treatments were delivered by supervised student therapists in the final term of their two year massage therapy program.

Outcome measures: Self-Efficacy [SE] was the outcome for the study, measured using the Multiple Sclerosis Self-Efficacy survey [MSSE]. Descriptive statistics for SE scores were assessed and inferential analysis involved the testing of between group differences at each of the measurement points noted above.

Results: Statistically significant improvement in self-efficacy was noted between treatment (n = 8) and control (n = 7) groups at mid treatment series (t = 2.32; p < 0.02), post treatment series (t = 1.81; p < 0.05) and at four week follow up (t = 2.24; p < 0.02). At the eight week follow up self-efficacy scores had decreased and there was no statistically significant difference between groups (t = 0.87; p < 0.2).

Conclusion: Study results support previous findings indicating that massage therapy increases the self-efficacy of clients with multiple sclerosis, potentially resulting in a better overall adjustment to the disease and an improvement in psycho-emotional state. The increase in self-efficacy after 4 weeks of treatment suggests that positive response occurs more rapidly that was previously demonstrated. The improvement in self-efficacy endured 4 weeks after the end of the treatment series, which suggests that massage therapy may have longer term effects on self-efficacy that were not previously noted. Lack of inter group difference at the eight week follow up reinforces the notion that on-going treatment is required in order to maintain the positive changes observed.

Keywords: Massage therapy; Multiple sclerosis; Self-efficacy.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Massage / methods*
  • Massage / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / psychology*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / therapy*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life
  • Self Efficacy*