The effect of heart rate variability biofeedback training on mental health of pregnant and non-pregnant women: A randomized controlled trial

Judith Esi van der Zwan, Anja C. Huizink*, Paul M. Lehrer, Hans M. Koot, Wieke de Vente

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

In this study, we examined the efficacy of heart rate variability (HRV)-biofeedback on stress and stress-related mental health problems in women. Furthermore, we examined whether the efficacy differed between pregnant and non-pregnant women. Fifty women (20 pregnant, 30 non-pregnant; mean age 31.6, SD = 5.9) were randomized into an intervention (n = 29) or a waitlist condition (n = 21). All participants completed questionnaires on stress, anxiety, depressive symptoms, sleep, and psychological well-being on three occasions with 6-week intervals. Women in the intervention condition received HRV-biofeedback training between assessment 1 and 2, and women in the waitlist condition received the intervention between assessment 2 and 3. The intervention consisted of a 5-week HRV-biofeedback training program with weekly 60–90 min. sessions and daily exercises at home. Results indicated a statistically significant beneficial effect of HRV-biofeedback on psychological well-being for all women, and an additional statistically significant beneficial effect on anxiety complaints for pregnant women. No significant effect was found for the other stress-related complaints. These findings support the use of HRV-biofeedback as a stress-reducing technique among women reporting stress and related complaints in clinical practice to improve their well-being. Furthermore, it supports the use of this technique for reducing anxiety during pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1051
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume16
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Mar 2019

Bibliographical note

Published [online]: 23 March 2019

Keywords

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • HRV-biofeedback
  • Psychological well-being
  • Sleep
  • Stress

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