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Identification of common features within massage therapists’ professional identity

  • Amanda Baskwill EMAIL logo , Meredith Vanstone ORCID logo , Del Harnish and Kelly Dore



In Ontario, Canada, MTs are regulated and have a common scope of practice. However, diverse practice settings and approaches to care create a need for MTs to articulate their professional identity. This study sought to answer, “what common features are foundational to the professional identity of MTs in Ontario?”


This quantitative research study was a part of a larger exploratory sequential mixed methods study. An online questionnaire-based cross-sectional study was conducted based on previous qualitative findings. MTs in Ontario, who held an active certificate, were invited to participate. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics.


The analysis revealed 17 common features that were endorsed by most respondents. Participants also reported thinking of themselves as healthcare professionals, rather than service providers, a feeling that was held across practice settings. Interesting and unexpected differences were noted in statements regarding the perception of MTs, areas of profession-specific knowledge, and the establishment of the therapeutic relationship.


This study furthers an understanding of MTs’ identity. Specifically, MTs consider themselves to be HCPs who are confident in their knowledge and abilities, especially their communication skills. They believe in providing individualized care and empowering their patients to take charge of their own health. Despite areas of overwhelming agreement, disagreement in endorsement was seen in areas such as MTs perception of their external image, use of evidence in practice, and the establishment of professional boundaries. These areas provide an opportunity for future research to continue to develop a body of knowledge regarding MTs professionalism and identity.

Corresponding author: Amanda Baskwill, PhD, MSc, BEd, RMT, Faculty of Health Sciences and Wellness, Humber College, 205 Humber College Blvd, Toronto, ON, Canada; and Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada, E-mail:


The authors wish to acknowledge the contributions of Anne Wong, MD, PhD, and Mitchell Levine, MD, MSc, as members of the primary author's PhD committee, and Jason Powell, PhD, whose comments during the writing process enhanced the arguments and distilled the discussion of this study.

  1. Research funding: None declared.

  2. Author contributions: All authors have accepted responsibility for the entire content of this manuscript and approved its submission.

  3. Competing interest: The authors have no conflicts to declare.


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Supplementary Material

The online version of this article offers supplementary material (

Received: 2020-09-28
Accepted: 2021-01-05
Published Online: 2021-05-10

© 2021 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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