Biofeedback efficacy studies

A critique of critiques

Abstract

Biofeedback, a field still in its infancy, has developed treatments that have been used with clinical success in the treatment of a number of disorders. Many have expressed their public concern that biofeedback has not lived up to its early promise and that it has not developed treatments that are, in fact, efficacious. A number of factors, which are inherent in biofeedback research, confound the results of clinical efficacy studies of biofeedback treatments. Researchers interested in the efficacy of biofeedback must address several issues: (1) Rejecting the null hypothesis is not equal to proving the null hypothesis (without the use of power analysis); (2) control for nonspecific effects is not equal to a double-blind experimental design; (3) ignorance of a mechanism of action is not equal to a lack of clinical efficacy; (4) the administration of training is not equal to the subject's learning to criterion; (5) untrained therapists are not equal to trained therapists; (6) statistical significance is not equal to clinical significance; and (7) the laboratory setting is not equal to the clinical setting.

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Steiner, S.S., Dince, W.M. Biofeedback efficacy studies. Biofeedback and Self-Regulation 6, 275–288 (1981). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01000653

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Keywords

  • Clinical Significance
  • Null Hypothesis
  • Clinical Setting
  • Health Psychology
  • Clinical Efficacy