Researchers from University Hospital Basel in Switzerland compared the immediate effects of brief guided imagery and relaxation exercises - two active and one passive 10-min relaxation technique - on prenatal stress in a randomized, controlled trial with 39 healthy pregnant women.
Subjects were assigned to one of two active relaxation techniques, progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) or guided imagery (GI), or a passive relaxation control condition.
Measures were self-reported relaxation on a visual analogue scale (VAS);
the State Anxiety Inventory (STAI-S); scores on the
hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis (cortisol and ACTH); and
sympathetic-adrenal-medullary (SAM) system activity (norepinephrine and
epinephrine). Additionally, measures were taken of cardiovascular
responses, such as heart rate, systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Scores were measured at four points before and after the relaxation
Pioneer guided imagery researchers from Ohio State University College of Medicine in Columbus, Ohio, examined whether the practice of hatha yoga can reduce stress responses, as indicated by measurable inflammatory and endocrine shifts in the body immediately after a session. This study compares the reactions of novice and expert yoga practitioners before, during, and after a restorative hatha yoga session, as compared to two control conditions.
Researchers from the Integrative Medicine Program at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons gathered preliminary information regarding the feasibility of implementing a brief meditation-based stress management (MBSM) program for patients with CHD, and those at high risk for CHD, at a major metropolitan hospital that serves a predominately non-local patient population. The secondary aim of the study was to see if such an intervention could reduce depression, as well as perceived stress, anxiety, and hostility, while improving general health scores.
Investigators from the Coimbra Nursing School in Coimbra, Portugal and the University of Akronís College of Nursing reported on the efficacy of a guided imagery intervention for decreasing depression, anxiety, and stress and increasing comfort in psychiatric inpatients with depressive disorders.
A quasi-experimental design sampled 60 short-term hospitalized patients suffering from depression, selected consecutively. The experimental group listened to a guided imagery compact disk once a day for 10 days.
Researchers from the University of Louisville in Kentucky looked at whether Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) can reduce stress arousal in patients suffering from fibromyalgia.
An earlier study by this principal investigator showed that MBSR reduced depressive symptoms in patients with fibromyalgia with gains maintained at two months follow-up (Sephton et al., Arthritis & Rheumatism, 57:77-85, 2007).
This second study explored the effects of MBSR on basal sympathetic (SNS) activation among women with fibromyalgia. Twenty-four participants were tested before and after MBSR for anxiety, depressive symptoms, and SNS activation.
Researchers from the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles conducted a 4-week pilot study to determine whether Interactive Guided Imagery could be effective for stress reduction (and therefore reduce the metabolic disease risk associated with obesity and hypercortisolism) in overweight Latino adolescents.
Researchers from Dalian University of Technology in Dalian, China, set out to explore why five days of integrative body-mind training (IBMT)* improves attentional focus and self-regulation better than relaxation training. The underlying mechanisms were sought by measuring physiological and brain changes at rest before, during, and after 5 days of IBMT and relaxation training.
[*IBMT is a meditation practice developed by Dr. Yi-Yuan Tang, a pioneer in studying neurological effects of meditation, by modifying and simplifying Chinese Tao meditation. It doesnít focus on thoughts in the mind, but rather a state of restful alertness from a high level of body awareness, augmented by the breath and guided imagery with music.]
During and after training, the IBMT group showed significantly
better physiological reactions in heart rate, respiratory amplitude and
rate, and skin conductance response (SCR) than the relaxation controls.
Researchers from the Tom Baker Cancer Centre in Alberta, Calgary, investigated the effects of a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) meditation program on early stage breast and prostate cancer patients, examining quality of life, mood states, stress symptoms, as well as levels of cortisol, dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate (DHEAS) and melatonin.
Fifty-nine patients with breast cancer and 10 with prostate cancer enrolled in an eight-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program that incorporated relaxation, meditation, gentle yoga, and daily home practice. Data was collected on demographic and health behavior variables, along with measures of quality of life, mood, stress, and assays of salivary cortisol (assessed three times/day), plasma DHEAS, and salivary melatonin, both pre- and post-intervention.
Investigators from Mind Matters Research in Anchorage, Alaska summarized their Phase I National Cancer Institute (NCI)-funded clinical trial with 34 breast cancer survivors, six weeks to one year post-treatment, who were recruited to participate in a 6-class, 8-week long imagery stress reduction program entitled "Envision the Rhythms of Life."
Patients practiced imagery during and between sessions. Outcomes for quality of life and cortisol rhythm were assessed pre- to post-intervention, in two subsets of survivors (intravenous [IV] chemotherapy, or no IV chemotherapy).
Researchers from the Department of Psychiatry at Brigham and Women's Hospital/Harvard Medical School reviewed the evidence on the efficacy of biofeedback for the two most prevalent headache conditions--migraine and tension-type headache.
Two recently published meta-analyses yielded data from 150 outcome studies - randomized controlled trials as well as uncontrolled quasi-experimental designs. Of these, 94 studies were selected for inclusion, going by predefined criteria. Meta-analytic integrations were carried out separately for the two conditions of interest.