skip to page content
Talk to the Veterans Crisis Line now
U.S. flag
An official website of the United States government

Health Services Research & Development

Go to the ORD website
Go to the QUERI website

HSR&D Citation Abstract

Search | Search by Center | Search by Source | Keywords in Title

Psychobiological changes from relaxation response elicitation: long-term practitioners vs. novices.

Chang BH, Dusek JA, Benson H. Psychobiological changes from relaxation response elicitation: long-term practitioners vs. novices. Psychosomatics. 2011 Nov 1; 52(6):550-9.

Dimensions for VA is a web-based tool available to VA staff that enables detailed searches of published research and research projects.

If you have VA-Intranet access, click here for more information

VA staff not currently on the VA network can access Dimensions by registering for an account using their VA email address.
   Search Dimensions for VA for this citation
* Don't have VA-internal network access or a VA email address? Try searching the free-to-the-public version of Dimensions


OBJECTIVE: The relaxation response (RR) is a physiological state that is the counterpart to the stress response. We investigate the psychological and biological effects, as well as the correlation between these two effects that are associated with short-term vs. long-term practice of techniques that elicit the RR ("RR practice"). METHODS: The study comprised both a cross sectional and an 8-week prospective design. The study sample included individuals with a long-term RR practice ("long-term practitioners" n = 28) and those with no prior RR practice experience ("novices" n = 28). The novices received 8 weeks of RR-elicitation training ("RR training") for the prospective analysis (short-term practice). RESULTS: Long-term practitioners reported lower levels of psychological distress than the novices before they received RR training. As a result of the 8-week RR training, novices significantly reduced their psychological distress to levels comparable to that of long-term practitioners. Long-term practitioners had greater immediate (after listening to a RR-eliciting CD) decreases in psychological distress level than the 8-week trained novices. Furthermore, the reduction in psychological distress levels for long-term practitioners correlated with a reduction in biological measures of stress, after controlling for baseline values. There was no reduction in biological measures and no correlation with psychological measures in the 8-week trained novices. CONCLUSIONS: While our data indicate that even a short-term 8-week RR-eliciting practice can decrease psychological distress levels, only after years of RR practice does psychological distress reduction coincide with biological change.

Questions about the HSR&D website? Email the Web Team

Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.