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Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine

Editor-in-Chief: Lui, Edmund

Ed. by Ko, Robert / Leung, Kelvin Sze-Yin / Saunders, Paul / Suntres, PH. D., Zacharias

CiteScore 2017: 1.41

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.472
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 0.564

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“Just don’t be creepy”: A phenomenological study of the experiences of men in massage therapy

Amanda Baskwill
  • Corresponding author
  • Health Research Methodology PhD Program, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
  • Humber College, School of Health Sciences, 205 Humber College Blvd, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Department of Family Medicine, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
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  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Meredith Vanstone
Published Online: 2017-11-17 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jcim-2017-0075



Societal expectations around traditional binary gender roles result in some professions being considered “men’s work” or “women’s work”. Massage therapy (MT) is one such profession that, despite being predominantly female, is joined by an increasing number of men with a desire to help others.


This descriptive phenomenological study asked male massage therapists in Ontario, Canada, about their experience of gender in their professional lives. Fourteen men shared their experiences of practice, which included discriminatory hiring and patient preferences for female practitioners. These issues resulted in difficulty establishing a clinical practice. To create a successful practice, men described the need for professionalism, clear communication, and a comfortable treatment environment.

Results and conclusions

Researchers should explore the impact of discrimination on men in MT, patient preferences based on the therapist’s gender, and the role of education in perpetuating societal heterosexual norms. Finally, as with any shift in culture, all levels of organization must take action to remove discrimination and bias within the profession of MT.

Keywords: discriminatory practices; gender issues


About the article

Received: 2017-07-27

Accepted: 2017-10-01

Published Online: 2017-11-17

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

Research funding: None declared.

Employment or leadership: None declared.

Honorarium: None declared.

Competing interests: The funding organization(s) played no role in the study design; in the collection, analysis and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; or in the decision to submit the report for publication.

Citation Information: Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine, Volume 15, Issue 1, 20170075, ISSN (Online) 1553-3840, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jcim-2017-0075.

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