Researchers from the Psychology Research Laboratory at San Giuseppe Hospital in Verbania, Italy, performed a meta-analysis of studies evaluating the effectiveness of relaxation training for anxiety.

The studies were published between 1997-2007 and included randomized, controlled trials, as well as simple observational studies without control groups, evaluating the efficacy of relaxation training [including Jacobson's progressive relaxation, autogenic training, applied relaxation and meditation] for anxiety problems and disorders.

Comprehensive electronic searches through Pubmed, Psychinfo and Cochrane Registers yielded 27 qualified studies. The primary outcome was degree of anxiety, measured with psychometric questionnaires. Meta-analysis was undertaken synthesizing the data from all trials, distinguishing within and between effect sizes.

As hypothesized, relaxation training showed medium-to-large effect sizes in the treatment of anxiety. Efficacy was higher for meditation, among volunteers and for longer durations of treatments. The researchers conclude that their results show consistent and significant efficacy for relaxation training’s impact on the reduction of anxiety.

Citation:Manzoni GM, Pagnini F, Castelnuovo G, Molinari E. Relaxation training for anxiety: a ten-years systematic review with meta-analysis. BMC Psychiatry. 2008 Jun 2; 8: page 41. [email protected]