The relaxation response: Influence on psychological and physiological responses in patients with COPD

Author: Crista Reaves1, Alona D Angosta2
Author Information:
1 Michigan State University, College of Nursing, 1355 Bogue St., Life Science Room #A224, East Lansing, MI 48824-1317, United States of America. Electronic address:
2 University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Nursing, 4505 Maryland Parkway, Box 453018, Las Vegas, NV 89154-3018, United States of America. Electronic address:
Conference/Journal: Appl Nurs Res
Date published: 2020 Aug 25
Other: Special Notes: doi: 10.1016/j.apnr.2020.151351. , Word Count: 231

In patients with COPD, distress is significantly prevalent and can have adverse psychological and physiological effects. The Relaxation Response Meditation Technique (RRMT), a technique that elicits the relaxation response, was developed by Dr. Herbert Benson to counter the fight-or-flight response to decrease psychological and physiological effects.

(1) To assess whether implementing the RRMT decreases anxiety in patients with COPD, (2) to determine whether RRMT reduces the patients' perception of breathlessness, and (3) to investigate whether RRMT improves the physiological responses of patients with COPD.

This quasi-experimental study used a pre- and post-test design. The sample (N = 25) consisted of a single group of patients diagnosed in stages 2-4 of COPD at an outpatient pulmonary rehabilitative clinic.

Inferential statistics were used to determine the psychological and physiological differences pre- and post-intervention utilizing the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, Modified Borg Scale, and BP, HR, respiratory rate, and oxygen saturation levels.

Results indicated a significant mean change in anxiety (p ≤ 0.001), perception of dyspnea (p ≤ 0.001), and a decrease in respiratory rate (p = .001) after implementing the RRMT. There was clinical improvement in systolic and diastolic BPs and HR.

Findings from this study support the inclusion of the RRMT as part of the pulmonary rehabilitative program to assist patients with COPD in adapting to the negative psychological and physiological responses of distress.

Keywords: Anxiety; COPD; Dyspnea; Meditation; Pulmonary rehabilitation; Relaxation response meditation technique.

PMID: 32893088 DOI: 10.1016/j.apnr.2020.151351