Stress Research

“The difficulty in science is often not so much how to make the discovery but rather to know that one has made it.” – J.D. Bernal

2014 Stress Statistics

Statistic Verification
Source: American Psychological Association, American Institute of Stress, NY
Research Date: 7.8.2014
Top Causes of Stress in the U.S.
Cause Factors
1
Job Pressure Co-Worker Tension, Bosses, Work Overload
2
Money Loss of Job, Reduced Retirement, Medical Expenses
3
Health Health Crisis, Terminal or Chronic Illness
4
Relationships Divorce, Death of Spouse, Arguments with Friends, Loneliness
5
Poor Nutrition Inadequate Nutrition, Caffeine, Processed Foods, Refined Sugars
6
Media Overload Television, Radio, Internet, E-Mail, Social Networking
7
Sleep Deprivation Inability to release adrenaline and other stress hormones
U.S Stress Statistics Data
Percent of people who regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress 77 %
Regularly experience psychological symptoms caused by stress 73 %
Feel they are living with extreme stress 33 %
Feel their stress has increased over the past five years 48 %
Cited money and work as the leading cause of their stress 76 %
Reported lying awake at night due to stress 48 %
Stress Impact Statistics
Percent who say stress has a negative impact on their personal and professional life 48 %
Employed adults who say they have difficulty managing work and family responsibilities. 31 %
Percent who cited jobs interfering with their family or personal time as a significant source of stress. 35 %
Perccent who said stress has caused them to fight with people close to them 54 %
Reported being alienated from a friend or family member because of stress 26 %
Annual costs to employers in stress related health care and missed work. $300 Billion
Percent who say they are “always” or “often” under stress at work 30 %
People who cited physical symptoms experienced the following
Fatigue 51 %
Headache 44 %
Upset stomach 34 %
Muscle tension 30 %
Change in appetite 23 %
Teeth grinding 17 %
Change in sex drive 15 %
Feeling dizzy 13 %
People who cited psychological symptoms experienced the following
Irritability or anger 50 %
Feeling nervous 45 %
Lack of energy 45 %
Feeling as though you could cry 35 %

 

Cardiac Coherence and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder in Combat Veterans

Jay P. Ginsberg, Ph.D.; Melanie E. Berry, M.S.; Donald A Powell, Ph.D.

Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, A Peer-Reviewed Journal, 2010;16 (4):52-60.
PDF version of the complete paper: Cardiac Coherence and PTSD in Combat Veterans

Abstract

Background: The need for treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among combat veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq is a growing concern. PTSD has been associated with reduced cardiac coherence (an indicator of heart rate variability [HRV]) and deficits in early stage information processing (attention and immediate memory) in different studies. However, the co-occurrence of reduced coherence and cognition in combat veterans with PTSD has not been studied before.

Primary Study Objective: A pilot study was undertaken to assess the covariance of coherence and information processing in combat veterans. An additional study goal was assessment of effects of HRV biofeedback (HRVB) on coherence and information processing in these veterans.

Methods/Design: A two-group (combat veterans with and without PTSD), pre-post study of coherence and information processing was employed with baseline psychometric covariates.

Setting: The study was conducted at a VA Medical Center outpatient mental health clinic.

Participants: Five combat veterans from Iraq or Afghanistan with PTSD and five active-duty soldiers with comparable combat exposure who were without PTSD.

Intervention: Participants met with an HRVB professional once weekly for 4 weeks and received visual feedback in HRV patterns while receiving training in resonance frequency breathing and positive emotion induction.

Primary Outcome Measures: Cardiac coherence, word list learning, commissions (false alarms) in go—no go reaction time, digits backward.

Results: Cardiac coherence was achieved in all participants, and the increase in coherence ratio was significant post-HRVB training. Significant improvements in the information processing indicators were achieved. Degree of increase in coherence was the likely mediator of cognitive improvement.

Conclusion: Cardiac coherence is an index of strength of control of parasympathetic cardiac deceleration in an individual that has cardinal importance for the individual’s attention and affect regulation.

 

The Effect of a Biofeedback-based Stress Management Tool on Physician Stress: A Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial

Jane B. Lemaire, Jean E. Wallace, Adriane M. Lewin, Jill de Grood, Jeffrey P. Schaefer

Open Medicine 2011; 5(4)E154.
PDF version of the complete paper: physician-stress-randomized-controlled-clinical-trial

Abstract

Background: Physicians often experience work-related stress that may lead to personal harm and impaired professional performance. Biofeedback has been used to manage stress in various populations.

Objective: To determine whether a biofeedback-based stress management tool, consisting of rhythmic breathing, actively self-generated positive emotions and a portable biofeedback device, reduces physician stress.

Design: Randomized controlled trial measuring efficacy of a stress-reduction intervention over 28 days, with a 28-day open-label trial extension to assess effectiveness.

Setting: Urban tertiary care hospital.

Participants: Forty staff physicians (23 men and 17 women) from various medical practices (1 from primary care, 30 from a medical specialty and 9 from a surgical specialty) were recruited by means of electronic mail, regular mail and posters placed in the physicians’ lounge and throughout the hospital.

Intervention: Physicians in the intervention group were instructed to use a biofeedback-based stress management tool three times daily. Participants in both the control and intervention groups received twice-weekly support visits from the research team over 28 days, with the intervention group also receiving re-inforcement in the use of the stress management tool during these support visits. During the 28-day extension period, both the control and the intervention groups received the intervention, but without intensive support from the research team.

Main outcome measure: Stress was measured with a scale developed to capture short-term changes in global perceptions of stress for physicians (maximum score 200).

Results: During the randomized controlled trial (days 0 to 28), the mean stress score declined significantly for the intervention group (change -14.7, standard deviation [SD] 23.8; p = 0.013) but not for the control group (change -2.2, SD 8.4; p = 0.30). The difference in mean score change between the groups was 12.5 (p = 0.048). The lower mean stress scores in the intervention group were maintained during the trial extension to day 56. The mean stress score for the control group changed significantly during the 28-day extension period (change -8.5, SD 7.6; p < 0.001).

Conclusion: A biofeedback-based stress management tool may be a simple and effective stress-reduction strategy for physicians.

 

Coherence Training In Children With Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Cognitive Functions and Behavioral Changes

Anthony Lloyd, Ph.D.; Davide Brett, B.Sc.; Ketith Wesnes, Ph.D.

Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, A Peer-Reviewed Journal, 2010; 16 (4):34-42

PDF version of the complete paper: coherence-training-in-children-with-adhd

Abstract

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the most prevalent behavioral diagnosis in children, with an estimated 500 000 children affected in the United Kingdom alone. The need for an appropriate and effective intervention for children with ADHD is a growing concern for educators and childcare agencies. This randomized controlled clinical trial evaluated the impact of the HeartMath self-regulation skills and coherence training program (Institute of HeartMath, Boulder Creek, California) on a population of 38 children with ADHD in academic year groups 6, 7, and 8. Learning of the skills was supported with heart rhythm coherence monitoring and feedback technology designed to facilitate self-induced shifts in cardiac coherence. The cognitive drug research system was used to assess cognitive functioning as the primary outcome measure. Secondary outcome measures assessed teacher and student reposted changes in behavior. Participants demonstrated significant improvements in various aspects of cognitive functioning such as delayed word recall, immediate word recall, word recognition, and episodic secondary memory. Significant improvements in behavior were also found. The results suggest that the intervention offers a physiologically based program to improve cognitive functioning in children with ADHD and improve behaviors that is appropriate to implement in a school environment.

 

Efficacy and Implementation of HeartMath Instruction in College Readiness Program: Improving Students’ Mathematics Performance and Learning

Michael Vislocky, Ph.D. and Ronald P. Leslie, Ph.D.

University of Cincinnati Clermont College, 2005.
PDF version of the Executive Summary: efficacy-and-implementation-of-heartmath-instruction

Abstract

In 2002, the University of Cincinnati Clermont College (UCCC) and the Greater Cincinnati Tech Prep Consortium (GCTPC) formed a partnership to address the pedagogical needs of high school students in the area of mathematics in order to prepare them for entry into higher education. Over the past four years (2002-2005), HeartMath emotional management training has been offered to Tech Prep students. It is well established that both math courses and math tests can lead to anxiety, and anxiety, in turn, interferes with students’ performance in mathematics. On the first day of instruction, students completed the COMPASS Math Placement Test and the post-test was completed on the last day. The math portion was in the form of guided program learning directed at their skill level as determined by their score on the COMPASS pre-test. Instructors were available to answer student questions. In the years 2002-2004, instruction on HeartMath tools and math skills were presented in separate classrooms. In 2005, the two forms of instruction were combined in the 3-hour class. Looking at the average improvement in test points from the COMPASS pre-test and post-test, the following results were obtained: 2002 – 19% average percent increase; 2003 – 15% average percent increase; 2004 – 24% average percent increase; 2005 – 73% average percent increase.

 

Coherence and Health Care Cost – RCA Actuarial Study: A Cost-Effectiveness Cohort Study

Woody Bedell; Mariette Kaszkin-Bettag, Ph.D.

Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, A Peer-Reviewed Journal, 2010;16 (4):26-31.
PDF version of the complete paper: rca-actuarial-study-coherence-and-health-care

Abstract

Chronic stress is among the most costly health problems in terms of direct health costs, absenteeism, disability, and performance standards. The Reformed Church in America (RCA) identified stress among its clergy as a major cause of higher-than-average health claims and implemented HeartMath (HM) to help its participants manage stress and increase physiological resilience. The 6-week HM program Revitalize You! was selected for the intervention including the emWave Personal Stress Reliever technology.

From 2006 to 2007, completion of a health risk assessment (HRA) provided eligible clergy with the opportunity to participate in the HM program or a lifestyle management program (LSM). Outcomes for that year were assessed with the Stress and Well-being Survey. Of 313 participants who completed the survey, 149 completed the Revitalize You! Program, and 164 completed the LSM. Well-being, stress management, resilience, and emotional vitality were significantly improved in the HM group as compared to the LSM group.

In an analysis of the claims costs data for 2007 and 2008, 144 pastors who had participated in the HM program were compared to 343 non-participants (control group). Adjusted medical costs were reduced by 3.8% for HM participants in comparison with an increase of 9.0% for the control group. For the adjusted pharmacy costs, an increase of 7.9% was found compared with an increase of 13.3% for the control group. Total 2008 savings as a result of the HM program are estimated at $585 per participant, yielding a return on investment of 1.95:1. These findings show that HM stress-reduction and coherence-building techniques can reduce health care costs.

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