A 6 month follow up of a work based stress management program was conducted. Volunteers completed the original study and 104 subjects were available for follow up. In addition, 54 office workers served as a comparison group (group 4). Volunteers were randomly divided into three groups. Groups 1 and 2 attended training sessions, practiced relaxing, and made plans for incorporating two 15 minute relaxation breaks into their daily work routines. Group 1 was instructed in the use of a specific relaxation technique. Group 2 was instructed to simply sit quietly and not use any specific relaxation technique. Group 3 received no instructions until the end of the experimental period. After the original 12 week study period, groups 2 and 3 were taught the relaxation technique. The primary dependent variables were blood pressure, indices of health, performance, and sense of well being. In groups 1 and 2, blood pressure and symptoms of stress decreased while work performance and sense of well being increased. No changes were seen in groups 3 or 4. Changes in group 1 were greater than those in group 2. The effects of the relaxation response observed during the original study were duplicated in a subgroup of group 3 that incorporated relaxation breaks into their routines, whereas no changes were seen in the subgroup that did not incorporate such techniques. Workers were more likely to continue taking relaxation breaks if they perceived definite benefits. They also had higher initial blood pressure, taught or encouraged others to practice, and had friends or family who meditated. Younger workers and college educated workers were more likely to stop practicing than older and less educated colleagues. The author concludes that although many who begin taking regular relaxation breaks do not continue the practice, the results of such breaks are beneficial, especially if they incorporate relaxation techniques.
Division of Biomedical and Behavioral Science, NIOSH, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Cincinnati, Ohio, NTIS PB83-175-364, 118 pages, 91 references