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Does Biofeedback Reduce Test Anxiety in Nursing Students?

30 Oct

[Ed. Note: The findings from this study contradict a lot of other studies that conclude otherwise, but we thought we should post it just the same, to be "fair and balanced". It's not clear why this study showed such disappointing results – could be low numbers or the quality of the interventions – hard to say.]

Researchers from National University School of Health and Human Services in Henderson, Nevada, developed a biofeedback-assisted relaxation training program to help nursing students who experience such debilitating test anxiety that they are unable to demonstrate their knowledge and therefore underperform academically.

Anxiety was measured using Spielberger's Test Anxiety Inventory and also by monitoring peripheral skin temperature, pulse, and respiration rates during the training. Participants were introduced to diaphragmatic breathing, progressive muscle relaxation and autogenic training.

Statistically significant changes occurred in respiratory rates and skin temperatures during the diaphragmatic breathing session; respiratory rates and peripheral skin temperatures during progressive muscle relaxation session; respiratory and pulse rates, and peripheral skin temperatures during the autogenic sessions.

No statistically significant difference was noted between the first and second TAI. Subjective test anxiety scores of the students did not decrease by the end of training.

Autogenic training session was most effective in showing a statistically significant change in decreased respiratory and pulse rates and increased peripheral skin temperature.

Citation: Prato CA1, Yucha CB. Biofeedback-assisted relaxation training to decrease test anxiety in nursing students. Nursing Education Perspectives. 2013 Mar-Apr;34 (2): pages 76-81. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award.