Abstract 2506: Relaxation Therapy in Patients with Chronic Heart Failure: A Randomized Controlled Trial
Introduction: Psychological morbidity is highly prevalent among chronic heart failure (CHF) patients, and its roles in aggravating cardiac-related symptoms, hospital readmissions and mortality are identified. Relaxation therapy has documented effects on improving physical and psychological well-being of cardiac patients. Yet, its effects on health outcomes of CHF patients are being under-investigated.
Objectives: This study examined the effects of progressive muscle relaxation training (PMRT) program on psychological and symptom status of CHF patients.
Methods: A total of 121 CHF patients were randomized to either experimental (n = 59) or control (n = 62) group upon hospital discharge. Experimental patients underwent a PMRT program, while the controls received an attention placebo. The PMRT program was run by a nurse and included two weekly-based PMRT training sessions, one revision workshop, twice-daily PMRT home practice and bi-weekly telephone follow-up call. The attention placebo included regular telephone call from another nurse at a schedule similar to that of nurse-patient contacts in the PMRT program. Main outcome measures, including psychological distress, dyspnea and fatigue, were taken at baseline, 8 and 14 weeks post-treatment from both groups.
Results: The experimental group reported a significant greater reduction in psychological distress over time as assessed on the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale than the control group [F(1.77, 207.2) = 8.15, p = .001, eta square = .07], and the improvement was maintained at 14 weeks follow-up [F(1, 117) = 18.22, p< .001]. There was, however, only a non-significant trend of greater improvement in symptom status as assessed on the Chronic Heart Failure Questionnaire in the experimental than control groups. This finding might be related to the presence of an exaggerated placebo effect. The compliance rate to PMRT home practice was 9.1/ week (SD = 2.1), indicating the relaxation therapy is well accepted by CHF patients.
Conclusion: PMRT can lead to an improvement in the psychological status of CHF patients. It might usefully be incorporated into the disease management program for CHF patients. Future study need to clarify the effect of PMRT on symptom control in CHF patients.