This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

The Roles of Touching and Massage Among Occupational Therapists and Teachers in Early Intervention Programs




Gray, Gwendolyn

Type of Degree



Rehabilitation and Special Education


The purpose of this study was to determine what occupational therapists and teachers in early intervention programs know about touching and massage; their personal attitudes about touching and being touched; and their practices regarding the use of touch/massage with infants and children with special needs from 0 to 3 years of age. The survey instrument was pilot tested for psychometric properties (test-retest reliability, and factor analysis) with student volunteers from Auburn and Tuskegee Universities. The survey was then mailed to a sample of occupational therapists nationally and teachers in early intervention programs in Alabama. With a follow up postcard, the return rate was 31% (n = 336). vi Based on statistical analyses, the survey instrument was determined to be a valid and reliable device for measuring the population under study. Using probability statistics, two of the three null hypotheses were retained and one was rejected. The following conditions were statistically significant: (a) number correct (knowledge) by work experience; (b) number correct by professional position; (c) avoid touch factor (attitude) by work experience; (d) avoid touch factor by highest degree; (e) will practice factor (practice) by license to massage; and (f) will practice factor by complementary and alternative medicines (CAM). Being an occupational therapist or teacher in early intervention was only statistically significant as it related to knowledge. The multiple regressions predicted that the more knowledge a participant has about touch, massage and CAMs, the more willing they were to use these interventions in practice. And the reverse was also predicted: where there is an attitude of more touch avoidance a participant would practice touch/massage less often in intervention. The respondents who commented on the study stated that they were supportive of CAMs, massage and touch-related intervention. Two hundred and thirty seven of the respondents were trained in other CAMs. The most frequent CAM training was myofascial release and massage training. The results were predictable. The analyses presented evidence that work experience and any CAM training (including massage) were statistically significant rather than professional position (teacher or therapist) as it related to attitudes about touching and a willingness to practice massage or other CAMs.