Stay Informed

Let email alerts bring the latest research to you

By Jerrilyn Cambron
[Somatic Research]

Research relevant to massage therapy is published every day. The annual number of massage therapy research articles has more than doubled compared to 10 years ago; looking at all fields of science, almost 1.5 million peer-reviewed articles were published in 2010.1 With so much new and potentially important information to deal with, how do you stay on top of it all?
One of the best ways to stay informed is to have the research sent to you via email. Knowing you will automatically receive these emails takes the pressure off of having to search each week. Plus, you can easily forward the information to other therapists so they stay informed as well. Here are some resources, both free and paid, to get you started.

One of the best websites for new research information is PubMed (, an online database of research articles supported by the US National Library of Medicine. Thousands of scientific journals are included in PubMed, covering a wide range of topics. You can search PubMed by entering keywords, similar to doing a Google search—for example, searching for “massage therapy” results in more than 11,000 research article citations. Typically, a few new articles on massage therapy are published each week.
You can sign up to receive email notifications whenever PubMed adds new research on topics you are interested in. First, create a free My NCBI account in PubMed. Second, use the PubMed feature “Save search” to have articles emailed to you automatically. You can customize the number of articles you want to receive, when they are sent, and the types of articles­—for example, you might want to see only studies with human subjects or a particular study design. Setting up an email notification is much easier than trying to remember to do searches on a regular basis.

Open-access journals
Some journals are open access (providing the full text of their articles free to the public) and, like PubMed, will email you when new articles are published. One such journal that focuses on massage and bodywork research, practice, and education is the International Journal of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (, published quarterly. IJTMB is in its seventh year of publication.
Another resource for open-access journal articles is BioMed Central (BMC), an online publishing site with more than 250 open-access journals. Sign up for article alerts to receive an email when new articles are published. One journal of interest might be BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine ( A list of other BMC journals can be found at  
More free full-text journals can be found in the Directory of Open Access Journals ( This website allows you to search on topics such as oncology and pediatrics so you can find journals that interest you. On each journal’s site you can sign up for free email alerts for new research articles.

Tables of contents
Another easy way to stay up to date is to have the tables of contents from your favorite journals emailed to you when they are released. At the very least, this will let you know the titles of new articles. You can usually view an abstract of each article, too. This gives you access to basic information even if you choose not to pay for the entire document.
One journal for which you might want to get the table of contents is the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies ( This journal is subscription-based, but you can receive the table of contents and view abstracts at no cost.
If you are not sure which journals are relevant to your work, check the index of subscription journals at This list does not include all journals in publication, but it is a good place to search for journals that cover topics of interest. You can then have a table of contents sent to you and decide if that journal is for you. If not, you can cancel future emails from that journal.

Other sites
There are many other health-care websites that will send you automatic emails when new information is posted. Some of the major sites include Medscape
(, MedPageToday
(, WebMD
(, and Science Daily
( Note that these sites are specific to medical care, not massage therapy.
For massage-specific information, The Massage Therapy Foundation (MTF) has a blog at that frequently mentions articles about new research and provides clear descriptions of studies and their outcomes. A recent MTF blog post explored current research on massage therapy and running. These blogs are easy to read and helpful for the practicing therapist. Signing up to receive notifications for new blog posts is easy and free.  
One of the best sites for finding academic articles on relevant topics is Google Scholar ( Many people are now turning to Google Scholar over PubMed because of the direct links to full-text articles. Searching with Google Scholar is just like searching with Google, but it returns research articles rather than websites. Searching for “massage for breast cancer,” for example, leads to more than 29,000 articles, with the newest at the top. You can also limit your search by date and create email alerts for new articles.
The Public Library of Science (PLoS), a nonprofit publisher and advocacy organization founded to advance science and medicine, has another interesting website ( Register on the PLoS website to receive emails when new research is published in one of their many open-access journals. These journals do not focus specifically on massage, but on many different topics in the fields of biology, medicine, and genetics. PLoS also includes a newsroom for new information and a community section with interesting conversations and activities. PLoS is on the cutting edge of methods for communicating research findings, and is very popular with research scientists.
If there’s a certain researcher whose work interests you, try ResearchGate (, where you can register for free to follow researchers’ careers. When an author publishes a new research article, the information is emailed to all individuals who follow that researcher. ResearchGate also lists research jobs and upcoming conferences, and assists researchers in their collaboration with each other.
If you are more interested in reading research overviews, the highly regarded Cochrane Collaboration ( produces systematic reviews of health-care research. The Cochrane Library contains more than 4,600 full-text articles accessible by subscription only. However, Cochrane Summaries are available at no cost and contain interesting informational overviews of the results. A free enewsletter that includes the newest research on health is also available.
Finally, the US National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus ( presents research overviews, informational videos, and other tools on many health topics, including prescription medications and supplements. The information is straightforward and has been vetted for accuracy. MedlinePlus does not provide original research articles but rather compiles information in an organized and understandable manner. MedlinePlus includes a free digital magazine with reliable, up-to-date health information.

Knowing where to look for information can be challenging, and keeping up with new research may seem next to impossible. However, taking advantage of the free email updates from one or more of the sites mentioned here can make the task a little easier. Staying up to date helps you better understand your clients’ health, communicate with other providers about wellness issues, and become better informed about the body. With that in mind, which site would you like to visit first?  

1. Quora, accessed May 2014,

Jerrilyn Cambron, DC, PhD, MPH, LMT, is an educator at the National University of Health Sciences and president of the Massage Therapy Foundation. Contact her at

To read this article in our digital issue, click here.