Examination of the Impact of Condensed Biofeedback Training on Acute Stress Responses
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The objective of this study was to measure the effects of a condensed 90 minute Biofeedback Training (BFT) method on stress response and decision making performance under stress. Forty one novice male participants received either BFT training, which incorporated diaphragmatic breathing with Stress Inoculation Training (SIT), or a control training task. Participants completed pre- and post-training assessments which incorporated a socio evaluative stress induction method followed immediately by performance of a simulation- based decision making under stress scenario. Stress was assessed using real-time physiological measures of the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) response and cortisol measures of the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) axis stress response. Perceived stress was measured using the state portion of the State Trait Anxiety Inventory and decision making performance was assessed during scenario performance. Results showed that participants in the BFT condition experienced a significant reduction in cortisol from pre-training to post-training, while the control group did not. However, BFT participants did not experience statistically significant reductions in ANS stress response or in perceived stress compared to the control group. Participants in the biofeedback group experienced greater improvements in performance from pre-training to post-training compared to the control group; however, these results only approached statistical significance (p = 0.09). These results suggest that the condensed BFT method has the potential to impart the knowledge and skills necessary to implement the biofeedback-based coping mechanisms; however, it may require additional practice time to allow the technique to be utilized more effectively.