Document Type


Publication details

Sangthong, A 2018, 'An investigation of quality assurance in the Thai therapeutic massage industry for critical competency and quality standards', DBA thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.

Copyright A Sangthong 2018


The traditional Thai massage industry contributes significant revenue to Thailand’s economy. Despite its economic importance, Thai therapeutic massage establishments lack quality control to ensure adequate levels of practitioner expertise and effective service delivery. This, in turn, has negative consequences for customer health and satisfaction. While the quality of spa (including massage) services has been investigated in some mature economies, such as the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, little research has been conducted in Thailand.

To address the problem, this exploratory research investigates current and desirable competency standards in Thai therapeutic massage and how the latter may be implemented. From a review of service quality and competency standards literature a framework to guide Thai therapeutic massage competencies is developed.

To further inform the research, a qualitative research methodology is used to gather insights from multiple stakeholders in Thai therapeutic massage: 30 individual, face-to-face, semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted in the Thai language with ten managers and ten masseuses from ten Thai massage shops in Bangkok (Thailand), five government officials from the Thailand Ministry of Public Heath, and five health specialists from Thai massage schools in Bangkok.

The findings of this research provide a set of critical competency standards required for Thai therapeutic massage, as well as the quality standards of Thai massage therapists working in Thai massage services.

The research results point to four key areas for improving quality standards in the Thai massage services: (1) The performance of Thai massage therapists; (2) the operational management of Thai massage services; (3) the courses and practice management for Thai massage training and (4) policy and support by the Thai government.

Overall, the research yields a suite of frameworks and tools to improve service quality in Thai therapeutic massage establishments in Thailand, notably:

  • Critical competencies required for Thai therapeutic massage therapists

  • Key features required for improving the quality standards of Thai therapeutic massage

  • Model for national Thai therapeutic massage curriculum in Thai massage institutions.

These outcomes are expected to inform Thai government policy and regulation of the Thai therapeutic massage industry and will help ensure the quality standards of Thai therapeutic massage as an export industry for tourists to Thailand.