Inability to demonstrate physiologic correlates of subjective improvement among patients taught the relaxation response

David M. Eisenberg*, Lewis Landsberg, Elizabeth N. Allred, Robert B. Saper, Thomas L. Delbanco

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective:To assess whether the regular elicitation of the relaxation response produces sustained physiologic changes coincident with symptomatic relief or improved psychological state. Design:Prospective, cohort pilot study. Setting:Clinical research center within a teaching hospital. Patients:Thirteen athletic men, mean age 44.8 years, with borderline or labile hypertension, taking no medication. All 13 completed the study. Interventions:Three baseline assessments of psychological state, symptom checklist, and assessment of autonomic response to infusion of beta agonist (isoproternol). Daily relaxation response exercises for five consecutive weeks followed by repeat assessment of all parameters. Discontinuation of relaxation exercises for subsequent five weeks followed by repeat assessment of all parameters. Measurements and main results:After eliciting the relaxation response, subjects demonstrated significant decreases in anxiety (p<0.014) and somatic symptoms (p<0.02). Psychological and somatic variables returned toward baseline after the subsequent discontinuation of relaxation exercises. No significant concomitant change in urinary catecholamines, heart rate response to isoproterenol, blood pressure, pulse rate, or serum cholesterol was demonstrated. Conclusion:The regular elicitation of the relaxation response can improve psychological performance and reduce symptoms. However, the physiologic mechanism whereby these psychological and symptomatic improvements occur remains poorly understood and warrants further investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-70
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of general internal medicine
Volume6
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1991

Keywords

  • hypertension
  • isoproterenol
  • psychological assessment
  • relaxation response
  • somatic symptoms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine

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