The usefulness of a stress management program was evaluated in highway maintenance workers. A group of maintenance workers received electromyogram (EMG) biofeedback training based on forehead muscle tension. Sensitivity was adjusted to require progressive improvement. Another group received muscle relaxation training and a third group served as comparisons. Sessions were held daily for 2 work weeks. Subjects were asked to practice the techniques on their own. After 3 months forehead EMGs were compared to baseline values from the start of the study. Questionnaires evaluating job stress, symptoms, and personal habits were given before training and at followup. At 2 weeks the biofeedback group showed significant decreases in forehead EMG but decreases in the muscle relaxation group were not significant. All groups reported significant increases in quality of sleep and feeling refreshed at work with decreases in subjective tension. At 3 months EMG values dropped toward baseline in all groups. Improvement continued to be significant in terms of anxiety, job satisfaction, and alcohol use. The author concludes that work site stress management programs are useful though the specific durability of physiological effects is not yet known.
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