Melissa Marotta Houser

ICI/PRO contributor Dr. Melissa Marotta Houser is one of those people who ask; "Why?" and "What if?" a lot... and then sets off to answer her own questions. Back on Podcast #157 we discussed the research Melissa had done, trying to understand; Are There Psychological Effects of Heart Rate Monitor Use During Exercise? If you haven't heard this interview it's fascinating and it will give you additional benefits to training with HR that you can offer to your participants.

Building on her research, Melissa has found a population of people who could potentially benefit from monitoring heart rate, beyond exercise. She's published her findings the Journal of Family Medicine - a publications of the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine.

Exercise Heart Rate Monitors for Anxiety Treatment in a Rural Primary Care Setting. Download the full article here.

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Rural patients with anxiety often lack access to traditional biofeedback modalities. Exercise heart rate monitors (HRMs) are tools used in the fitness industry to provide athletes with feedback on heart rate and regulatory breathing strategies. HRMs are inexpensive, discrete, and publicly accessible.

This randomized controlled pilot study explored whether use of HRMs for biofeedback during guided mindfulness, diaphragmatic breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation techniques could facilitate anxiety reduction as compared to these techniques alone.

METHODS: Fifty-three rural anxiety patients were randomized to HRM or control groups for four weekly 20-minute, scripted sessions with a non-behaviorist wherein they practiced these techniques; the HRM group received feedback on their heart rate response.

RESULTS: The HRM group had significantly greater improvement in state anxiety (State-Trait Anxiety Inventory) and self-efficacy (General Self Efficacy Scale), and a greater percentage of the group indicated that they “felt in control of their anxiety.”

CONCLUSIONS: This pilot study demonstrates that this novel, inexpensive, and accessible tool may be a useful clinical intervention for anxiety and can be easily incorporated by both behaviorists and non-behaviorist primary care clinicians into individual or group biofeedback treatment for patients with anxiety. This tool has additional potential for patients to use for anxiety self-management.
Further study with a larger sample and blinded design is warranted.

Well done Doctor Melissa - I'm looking forward to what you come up with next!

You can read Melissa's articles here.



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