EFFECTS OF A COMBINED RELAXATION AND MEDITATION TRAINING PROGRAM ON HYPERTENSIVE PATIENTS (BEHAVIORAL MEDICINE, COGNITIVE THERAPY, ANXIETY, STRESS, MULTI-PROCESS THEORY).
AuthorFRISKEY, LOUISE MAY.
Committee ChairKahn, Marv
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractA growing literature suggests that training in relaxation or meditation results in significant reductions in blood pressure in hypertensive patients. The present study was designed to assess the efficacy of a combination relaxation and meditation training program structured by the author and previously used in treatment of a broad spectrum of anxiety-related clinical problems of either a medical (somatic) or a psychological (cognitive and emotional) nature. The 20 subjects were a heterogeneous clinical group of veterans with mild hypertension who were seen at the Tucson Veterans Administration Medical Center. Volunteers were randomly assigned to either (I) an education/cognition group, (II) a three-treatment relaxation/meditation group, or (III) a six-treatment relaxation/meditation group. Blood pressure, anxiety, and stress were measured at regular intervals during training and follow up. All groups were trained over a six-week period. Both relaxation/meditation groups were taught the same skills; only the schedules for training were varied. The educational group, conceived as a control for therapist attention, was, in fact, a cognitive treatment group. Statistically significant reductions in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure were found over time in all groups, while no difference in blood pressure reductions was found among the groups. Anxiety scores increased over time, and no correlation was found between subjective anxiety and objective blood pressure measures. Means of both systolic and diastolic blood pressure were lower at times when subjects reported no stress. Results of this study tend to support those of previous studies, finding statistically significant reductions in systolic and diastolic blood pressure over time in two groups of hypertensive subjects trained in relaxation and meditation techniques. No difference was found, moreover, between these groups and an education/cognition group, suggesting that group techniques, in either significant lowering of blood pressure. This finding lends support to a multiprocess theory which suggests that all treatments have multiple effects.