Date of Award

Fall 1981

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Fehring, Richard J.

Second Advisor

Stollenwerk, Ruth M.

Third Advisor

Brennan, Patti


The purpose of the study was to examine the use of Benson's relaxation technique in reducing psychophysiological stress responses of persons experiencing cardiac catheterization. Experimental hypotheses stated that patients who practice Benson's relaxation technique before their catheterization will have lower 1)systolic blood pressure, 2) diastolic blood pressure, 3) heart rate, 4) respiratory rate, and 5) A-state anxiety than those who do not practice the technique. Twenty patients who agreed to participate were randomly assigned to a relaxation or control group. The patients were between the ages of 41 and 70, were having their first catheterization, and had not practiced a relaxation technique within the past year. Variables measured included systolic and diastolic blood pressure measured with a mercury sphygmomanometer, heart and respiratory rates measured by one minute counts by the investigator, and A-state anxtiety as measured by Spielberger, Gorsuch and Lusheene's Self-Evaluation Questionnaire. Measurements were taken before, during and after catheterization and were then averaged to compare groups with respect to each hypothesis. Subjects in both groups received standard pre-catheterization teaching. Subjects in the relaxation group additionally were taught Benson' s relaxation technique and asked to practice it the afternoon, evening, and morning before catheterization . The relaxation group mean respiratory rate was lower than that of the control group at the 0.02 level of significance. However, the groups were statistically different with respect to this variable before the experimental intervention. No other hypotheses were accepted at the 0.05 level of significance. Therefore it was concluded that practicing Benson's relaxation technique was not helpful in reducing psychophysiological stress responses of patients in this study who were experiencing cardiac catheterization. However, trends were seen in the predicted direction. The small sample sizes may have prevented statistical significance. Other variables might also have been more sensitive indicators of the relaxation response, permitting statistically significant findings. Therefore it was recommended that this research be replicated with larger sample sizes and perhaps with variables, such as plasma norepinephrine levels and 02 consumption levels, which may be more sensitive indicators of the relaxation response.