Chronic diseases, specifically autoimmune disorders, take an enormous physical, psychological, and financial toll on patients, families, and the healthcare system. Mainstream biomedicine offers limited solutions outside of pharmacological interventions. Mind-Body Medicine (MBM) lifestyle intervention strategies offer low-cost, low-risk options to reducing stress and managing health. A review of relevant biomedical literature regarding effects of cumulative stress on psychological and physiological health was completed. To my knowledge, this is the first study to analyze the effects of relaxation strategies on immune function, mood, and heart rate variability in adult women diagnosed with thyroid diseases.
This quasi-experimental study measured the effects of diaphragmatic breathing (DB) and guided imagery (GI) in a small convenience sample of 15 participants (DB, n = 7; GI, n = 8). Pre- and post-intervention data were collected on (a) heart rate variability, (b) mood using the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS), and (c) immune response with salivary interleukin-1beta (IL-1β). Saliva samples were tested utilizing enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) method.
Within-subject data from Wilcoxon signed rank tests showed both interventions significantly decreased negative mood (DB, p = .02; GI, p = .01). In contrast, only the DB group showed significant changes in HRV (SDNN, p = .02; RMSSD, p = .04; pNN50, p = .05; LF(n.u.), p = .04). Interestingly, the IL-1β results for both interventions showed an unexpected increase, with the GI group showing statistical significance (p = .05). Between-group analysis using the Mann-Whitney U test showed statistically significant change scores along with moderate effect sizes for HRV (SDNN, p = .04, r = –.54; LF(n.u.), p = .04, r = –.54; HF(n.u.), p = .04, r = –.54).
This study provides important clinical implications for the field of Psychoneuroimmunology and lends support for integrative care by using lifestyle interventions to positively impact and optimize health, specifically for those diagnosed with thyroid diseases. Future research assessing the effects of relaxation interventions would elucidate the impact of these self-regulation techniques within this medical population. Specifically, studies with larger sample size and including salivary IL-1β would enhance the literature regarding this cytokine’s role in inflammation and the healing process.
|Commitee:||Ihara, Emily, Willmarth, Eric|
|Department:||Mind Body Medicine|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||DAI-B 79/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Mental health, Alternative Medicine, Health sciences, Gender studies|
|Keywords:||Autoimmune disorders, Diaphragmatic breathing, Guided imagery, Heart rate variability, Interleukin-1 beta, Thyroid diseases|
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