, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 169-187

Stress management training and relaxation imagery in the treatment of essential hypertension

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Abstract

The present study compared the effectiveness of three procedures in the treatment of 34 individuals with essential hypertension: (1) stress management training plus relaxation imagery, which consisted of an adaptation of existing stress management techniques in conjunction with extensive relaxation training using relaxation imagery; (2) relaxation imagery alone; and (3) weekly blood pressure checks. The relaxation imagery technique involved visualization of a relaxing image along with concentration on suggestions of relaxation, heaviness, and warmth. Treatment was individualized and lasted 8 weeks. Results indicated stress management plus relaxation imagery and relaxation imagery alone were significantly more effective than blood pressure checks in reducing systolic and diastolic blood pressures during treatment and in maintaining diastolic blood pressure reductions during follow-up. However, no significant differences were found between the two treatment procedures. Clinical implications of these findings are discussed.

This study is based on a doctoral dissertation completed in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a Ph.D. degree from the University of Vermont. The author wishes to thank Harold Leitenberg, Ph.D., for his supervision of this research.