Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback

, Volume 41, Issue 2, pp 129–139 | Cite as

Improving Managers’ Psychophysical Well-Being: Effectiveness of Respiratory Sinus Arrhythmia Biofeedback

  • Marianna Munafò
  • Elisabetta PatronEmail author
  • Daniela Palomba


High work stress has been consistently associated with disturbed autonomic balance, specifically, lowered vagal cardiac control and increased sympathetic activity, which may lead to increased cardiovascular risk. Stress management procedures have been proposed to reduce autonomic dysfunctions related to work stress in different categories of workers exposed to heightened work demands, while a limited number of studies addressed this issue in managers. The present study was aimed at evaluating the effectiveness of a respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) biofeedback (BF) intervention on psychological and physiological outcomes, in managers with high-level work responsibilities. Thirty-one managers leading outstanding private or public companies were randomly assigned to either a RSA-BF training (RSA-BF; N = 16) or a control group (N = 15). The RSA-BF training consisted of five weekly 45 min sessions, designed to increase RSA, whereas controls had to provide a daily stress diary once a week. After the training, managers in both groups reported reduced heart rate at rest, lower anxiety levels and improvement in health-related quality of life. More importantly, managers in the RSA-BF group showed increased vagal control (as indexed by increased RSA), decreased sympathetic arousal (as indexed by reduced skin conductance and systolic blood pressure) and lower emotional interferences, compared to managers in the control group. Results from this study showed that RSA-BF training was effective in improving cardiac autonomic balance at rest. Moreover, findings from this study underline the effectiveness of biofeedback in reducing psychophysiological negative outcomes associated with stress in managers.


Biofeedback Respiratory sinus arrhythmia Managers Stress Cardiovascular risk 



The study was supported by Mind Room International s.r.l., and its partners Confindustria Vicenza and Banca Popolare di Vicenza (Funding Number 382/3/17/5/5/24/2010). The funding source contributed to the recruiting of participants, but it had no involvement in study design, data collection, analysis and interpretation, the writing of the report and the decision to submit the paper for publication.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marianna Munafò
    • 1
  • Elisabetta Patron
    • 1
    Email author
  • Daniela Palomba
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of General PsychologyUniversity of PadovaPaduaItaly

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