Exploring the Effectiveness of a Computer-Based Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback Program in Reducing Anxiety in College Students

Graduate Psychology, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA, USA.
Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback (Impact Factor: 1.13). 06/2011; 36(2):101-12. DOI: 10.1007/s10484-011-9151-4
Source: PubMed


Given the pervasiveness of stress and anxiety in our culture it is important to develop and implement interventions that can be easily utilized by large numbers of people that are readily available, inexpensive and have minimal side effects. Two studies explored the effectiveness of a computer-based heart rate variability biofeedback program on reducing anxiety and negative mood in college students. A pilot project (n = 9) of highly anxious students revealed sizable decreases in anxiety and negative mood following utilizing the program for 4 weeks. A second study (n = 35) employing an immediate versus delayed treatment design replicated the results, although the magnitude of the impact was not quite as strong. Despite observing decreases in anxiety, the expected changes in psychophysiological coherence were not observed.

Download full-text


Available from: Gregg Henriques, May 06, 2014
  • Source
    • "The effectiveness of self-directed PA is well established (e.g., see Conn 2010a, b for reviews), but less is known about the effectiveness of self-directed MM and HRV-BF. Even though several studies suggested that PA, MM and HRV-BF reduce stress and its related symptoms (e.g., Chiesa and Serretti 2009; Conn 2010a; Henriques et al. 2011), to the best of our knowledge, the effectiveness of these three interventions has not yet been compared. Moreover, most studies that included PA, MM and, to a lesser extent, HRV- BF, examined these interventions in a face-to-face context. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: In contemporary western societies stress is highly prevalent, therefore the need for stress-reducing methods is great. This randomized controlled trial compared the efficacy of self-help physical activity (PA), mindfulness meditation (MM), and heart rate variability biofeedback (HRV-BF) in reducing stress and its related symptoms. We randomly allocated 126 participants to PA, MM, or HRV-BF upon enrollment, of whom 76 agreed to participate. The interventions consisted of psycho-education and an introduction to the specific intervention techniques and 5 weeks of daily exercises at home. The PA exercises consisted of a vigorous-intensity activity of free choice. The MM exercises consisted of guided mindfulness meditation. The HRV-BF exercises consisted of slow breathing with a heart rate variability biofeedback device. Participants received daily reminders for their exercises and were contacted weekly to monitor their progress. They completed questionnaires prior to, directly after, and 6 weeks after the intervention. Results indicated an overall beneficial effect consisting of reduced stress, anxiety and depressive symptoms, and improved psychological well-being and sleep quality. No significant between-intervention effect was found, suggesting that PA, MM, and HRV-BF are equally effective in reducing stress and its related symptoms. These self-help interventions provide easily accessible help for people with stress complaints.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2015 · Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback
  • Source
    • "A previous study in Thailand found biofeedback intervention to be effective in reducing anxiety and managing stress among undergraduate nursing students [14]. Biofeedback intervention was also found to be effective in helping other university students in other countries with their mental health issues [15] [16]. No previous biofeedback study has been done among university students regarding depression, even though there is a high cooccurrence rate for anxiety and depression. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Globally, graduate students have been found to have high prevalence of mental health problems. With increasing severity of mental health problems on university campuses and limited resources for mental health treatment, alternative interventions are needed. This study investigated the use of biofeedback training to help reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. A sample of 60 graduate students in public health nursing was randomly assigned to either the biofeedback intervention or the control group. Results indicated that biofeedback intervention was effective in significantly reducing the levels of stress, anxiety, and depression over the 4-week period, while the control group had increases in symptoms of anxiety and depression over the same timeframe. As future leaders in the public health nursing arena, the more psychologically healthy the graduate students in public health nursing are, the better the public health nursing professionals they will be as they go forth to serve the community after graduation.
    Full-text · Article · May 2015
  • Source
    • "Also, in certain professions, in order to handle some difficult and complex situations, biofeedback, through the control of heart rate variability, also helps to improve work conditions (Chandler, Bodenhamer-Davis, Holden, Evenson, & Bratton, 2001; Cutshall et al., 2011). Various computer programs have proven to be effective in cardiac coherence management (Edwards, 2014; Henriques, Keffer, Abrahamson, & Horst, 2011), but present technical devices tend to be expensive and not easily accessible. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Stress is considered to be an individual’s response to different pressures and demands in a particular environment (Pottier et al., 2011). In an ever more demanding and stressful world, many options for people to learn how to relax and how to deal with a challenging lifestyle are becoming available. O.zen is a great alternative, since it is a ludic and not expensive device, which goal is to help people to relax with the help of breathing games that can easily be accomplished no matter what time of the day or context. The goal of this study was to test O.zen’s efficiency. In order to do so, neuropsychological tests were held throughout the experiment to 28 participants that were divided in experimental (played O.zen) and control (watched videos equivalent to O.zen) groups. Also, cortisol levels and participants’ skin conductance was measured. Both groups showed overall improvements, with participants feeling significantly less anxious after playing O.zen, and showing a lower level of skin conductance. O.zen’s visuals and music seem to be beneficial on their own, with its biofeedback quality emphasizing the gains.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2015
Show more