This selection of massage news articles will help you keep on top of what’s happening in your industry.

This selection of massage news articles will help you keep on top of what’s happening in your industry.

David Julius (left) and Ardem Patapoutian
David Julius (left) and Ardem Patapoutian

Touch- and Pain-Sensation Researchers Awarded Nobel Prize

The 2021 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded jointly to two researchers who, independently of one another, uncovered mechanisms of how we sense touch, cold, heat and our own bodily movements.

Heralding the two researchers’ work as “breakthrough discoveries,” a statement from the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet described each of their projects:

David Julius utilized capsaicin, a pungent compound from chili peppers that induces a burning sensation, to identify a sensor in the nerve endings of the skin that responds to heat. Ardem Patapoutian used pressure-sensitive cells to discover a novel class of sensors that respond to mechanical stimuli in the skin and internal organs.

“Prior to the discoveries of David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian, our understanding of how the nervous system senses and interprets our environment still contained a fundamental unsolved question: how are temperature and mechanical stimuli converted into electrical impulses in the nervous system?” the Nobel Assembly’s statement read.

Read more about the researchers’ projects here.

What is the Impact of Identity in the Health Care Setting?

Understanding the trauma and discrimination faced by our fellow human beings can help people be more empathetic and caring toward marginalized groups. This empathy is needed now in the health care arena as many more people who belong to minorities—whether racial or gender-based—face bigotry and violence. This was one message out of Just Care: Social Justice in Health Care, a conference held online Oct. 9-10 and presented by healwell, which provides massage therapy in hospitals, conducts research and provides advanced, clinical education. 

The keynote by Chase Anderson, MD, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at the University of California, San Francisco, focused on the impact of identity, how identity affects mental health, what it means to be minoritized, and how health care professionals can identity their own biases and hold safe space. Anderson spoke of his own identities as an African American man, a physician and a gay person.

“Identity helps us with decision-making and community building,” Anderson said. “Identity can be a good thing, but can identity also be a bad thing? The short answer is yes. The long answer is the drive to protect our identity can sometimes prevent us from being open-minded and compassionate and can be polarizing.”

Identity-based discrimination can include physical violence, pay discrepancies, sexual trauma and more—and rates of violence and bigotry have been on the rise since 2016, said Anderson.  Such experiences can lead to feelings of depression, anxiety and the need for acceptance, he added.

“I’m going to spin it a little bit from, like, [my] doctor perspective, but a lot of these things actually map to just patients in general, and they also map to a lot of things in America,” Anderson said, adding that one of those things is microaggressions, or behavior that can disempower people. One such microaggression, he said, occurs when a health care provider says they aren’t prejudiced or don’t have racist tendencies.

“We are born into a system that is racist, inherently, America was built upon it,” he explained. “We all have biases—it’s how do we recognize those biases? How do we become more aware of them? And how do we work against them, so it doesn’t impact the care that we give to other people?”

Anderson cited 2017 research that looked at vignettes examining the influence of patient characteristics on attitudes, diagnoses and treatment decisions. Thirty-five out of the 42 articles found evidence of implicit bias around age, race, socioeconomic standing, mental illness, weight, disability, gender and more, he said. (Implicit bias means thoughts, preferences and feelings that we may be unaware of or mistaken about their nature.) “So, basically, there’s bias in everything. [Bias in health care is] actually [at] the same levels of implicit bias as the wider population.”

The key for health care professionals, Anderson said, is to create a safe space for people who have faced discrimination—and remembering that’s virtually everyone who holds a non-white or non-cis identity. “We educate ourselves, and we need to protect minoritized people and become actual allies,” he said. “We need to come at a lot of this from humility, from seeking to understand and truly converse.

“Instead of saying “‘We’re right, we know what we’re doing”—we actually don’t most of the time,” he added. So instead of believing you don’t operate from a place of bias, Anderson said, have the humility to say, “‘I don’t understand everything you’re going through. I don’t understand all the facts about being different. But I’m here to learn. And I’m here to teach myself.'”

Read “Diversity in Massage Therapy: What Will Help Us Create a More Inclusive and Just Field?”

Legislative Updates


Louisiana: HB531, signed into law by Gov. John Bel Edwards, takes aim at human trafficking by requiring the state board of massage to send license applicants’ fingerprints to the FBI and state law enforcement to check for criminal activity. The new law also requires the board to prioritize inspections related to complaints made to it about any unlicensed activity by massage therapists or massage establishments; check published news articles to help identify unauthorized activities of a massage therapist or establishment; include in the inspection protocol a list of observations for inspectors to determine whether there is a strong possibility that an establishment is operating as a sexually oriented business, and forward information to law enforcement. (Source: text of HB 531/Act No. 324.)

New Hampshire

New Hampshire: Under SB148, recently signed into law by Gov. Chris Sununu, any private vocational school that makes $100,000 or less in tuition annually will no longer need to be licensed by the state and will no longer be examined by the New Hampshire Higher Education Commission. This includes schools that train in massage, yoga, midwifery, surgical technology and more.

“This change will make it easier for smaller career schools to operate and promote the creation of new vocational schools in New Hampshire with minimal risk to participating students,” said Stephen Appleby, the Department of Education’s director of educator support and higher education, in an official statement.

A department press release noted, “Forty-one existing licensed schools are now exempt and will no longer pay any new fees or file any renewals unless they opt to remain licensed.” (Source: text of SB148; New Hampshire Department of Education.)


Ohio: Before HB81 was passed by the Ohio Legislature, non-licensed massage therapists in the state could perform massage as long as they didn’t call it massage therapy or therapeutic massage. The bill also targets human trafficking by authorizing the State Medical Board to inspect massage businesses for illegal activity and refer those businesses to law enforcement; it also authorizes investigation into the criminal record of anyone applying for a massage permit. (Source: text of HB81.)

Find your state board of massage’s contact information here.

The COVID-19 Delta Variant Affects Health Care, Stress

“Household Experiences in America During the Delta Variant Outbreak,” a survey conducted by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and released in October, found:

• In health care, 18% of households report anyone in their household has been unable to get medical care for a serious problem in the past few months when they needed it, with 76% of those unable to get care reporting negative health consequences as a result.

• Among households unable to get care when they needed it, 78% report having health insurance, while 22% report not having health insurance.

• Forty-two percent of households (42%) report using telehealth in the past few months, with widely reported satisfaction (82% satisfied). Despite this, 64% of households using telehealth say they would have preferred an in-person visit over telehealth in their last visit.

• Half of households (50%) report anyone has experienced serious problems with depression, anxiety, stress, or serious problems sleeping in the past few months.

Read the full report here.

Visit MASSAGE Magazine’s COVID-19 resource section for information on COVID-19 health news; practice safely; and stay connected to advice on marketing, self-care, PPE; sanitation procedures and more.