Dr Jo Smith
Publish Date: Monday, 4 May 2020
Dr Jo Smith

Massage therapy research updates

Dr Jo Smith is Programme Manager for the Bachelor of Therapeutic and Sports Massage. She has a background in health science and physiotherapy, and a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Otago during which she examined massage therapy services for health needs. In 2014 Jo carried out a variety of research activities. She contributed regular articles to the MNZ (Massage New Zealand) Magazine, acted as an external supervisor of Donna Smith’s PhD, and was voted in on the Massage New Zealand Executive as Researcher Officer for 2014/2015.

Jo is a long term advocate for recognition of the therapeutic massage industry as a highly professional and legitimate industry. In 2009 she established the New Zealand Massage Therapy Research Centre (NZMTC) along with colleague Donna Smith, to foster and encourage massage therapy research in New Zealand. ‘One of the aims of NZMTRC was to integrate massage therapy research and teaching by promoting research in the massage therapy field,’ says Jo. ‘We wanted to make research findings more accessible to massage therapists.’

In 2014 Jo has written three articles for MNZ, a magazine that is a seminal source of information for those working in the industry. These articles share relevant research in the field of massage therapy with the intention of disseminating the information to the diverse stakeholder group: massage therapists, massage therapy students, massage therapy clients, and medical and allied health professionals. ‘Research traditionally gets published in academic journals,’ Jo explains. ‘But these tend not to have a very wide audience. The purpose of my articles is to summarise recent published studies and present the information in a way that makes it easily perusable and accessible. Readers might then follow the links to read the full study if they are interested in a particular topic.’

Jo bases each article around a specific theme or issue in massage therapy. ‘The final contribution for 2014, for example, focused on education for massage therapists. It reviewed an article about the professionalisation journey that the New Zealand massage therapy industry has and is taking, and the role that degree based education has in this journey,’ says Jo. ‘It also looked at a study about online education for massage therapy, and its challenges and potential. Another article that was reviewed was an evaluation of the quality of massage education in the US.’ One of the strategies of the NZMTRC is to promote massage therapy research and research informed education, Jo’s work in 2014 is one way that this is being achieved.