Relaxation Response Training for the Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis

2014-08-27 03:55:26 | BioPortfolio


This study will evaluate the relative effectiveness of Relaxation Response (RR) training for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The study will compare RR training to RR training with cognitive behavioral therapy and to a standard RA education program.


RR training is a part of most multi-component psychosocial therapies for RA. RR training may decrease perceived psychosocial stress and autonomic tone, which in turn diminishes pain and the anticipatory anxiety associated with pain. RR training involves learning relaxation techniques which include diaphragmatic breathing, progressive skeletal muscle relaxation, and the induction of a state of focused attention on a chosen word, phrase, or image.

In clinical practice, RR training is generally administered as one component of RA therapy. In this study, the effectiveness of RR training will be evaluated when RR training is administered alone and in combination with a cognitive behavioral therapy program. The cognitive behavior techniques include problem solving, relabeling, enhanced awareness of pain behaviors, and attention refocusing. The effectiveness of RR training will be evaluated in comparison to standard RA education that includes topics such as the nature of RA disease, medical therapies, physical activities, nutrition, and pain mechanisms.

After a baseline assessment of health beliefs, RA severity, social support, and psychological distress, patients will be randomized to one of three study arms. Patients in Arm A will complete six individualized weekly RR training sessions. Patients will receive a 20-minute audiotape to guide them through the exercise; they are asked to practice 5 to 7 times per week. Patients in Arm B will learn cognitive behavioral and RR techniques during eight weekly sessions. Patients in Arm C will receive standard RA education. After the initial training, all patients will be followed up with monthly telephone conversations for 4 months. Patients will have follow-up study visits at Months 6 and 12. Follow-up study visits include a medical interview, physical exam, and blood tests.

Study Design

Allocation: Randomized, Control: Active Control, Endpoint Classification: Efficacy Study, Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment, Masking: Open Label, Primary Purpose: Treatment


Rheumatoid Arthritis


Relaxation response and cognitive behavioral therapy, Relaxation response, RA education


Brigham & Women's Hospital
United States




National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)

Results (where available)

View Results


Published on BioPortfolio: 2014-08-27T03:55:26-0400

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