Background: Relaxation techniques can reduce sympathetic nervous system activation and stress, potentially improving heart failure patients’ physical and psychological outcomes.

Purpose: To examine the effects of biofeedback-assisted relaxation (BFAR) therapy in patients with heart failure.

Methods: A prospective randomized control study was conducted. Participants in the treatment group received BFAR therapy, while participants in the control group received standard of care. Short-term outcomes were physical symptoms and psychosocial variables measured at baseline and 3 months; long-term outcomes were cardiac events and mortality assessed at 12 months.

Results: Fifty-two heart failure patients participated in the study: 23 (mean age 60.0 ± 13.7 years; 60.9% male; 39.1% New York Heart Association III/IV) in the treatment group and 29 (mean age 59.2 ± 12.2 years; 72.4% male; 48.3% New York Heart Association III/IV) in the control group. Short-term effects of BFAR on outcome variables were not significantly different between treatment and control groups. However, longer event-free survival was found in the treatment group compared with the control group (p = .019).

Conclusions/Implications for Practices: BFAR therapy is effective to improve cardiac event-free survival of heart failure patients and can be applied to clinical setting.

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Published in SAGE Open Nursing, v. 2, p. 1-8.

© The Author(s) 2016

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 License (http://www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/) which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage).

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The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This study was supported by the National Science Council in Taiwan (NSC 97-2314-B-255-006-MY3), Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing (2008–2009 Sigma Theta Tau International Small Grant), and Chang Gung Medical Foundation.