The effectiveness of progressive muscle relaxation training in managing chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting in Chinese breast cancer patients: a randomised controlled trial

Support Care Cancer. 2002 Apr;10(3):237-46. doi: 10.1007/s00520-001-0329-9. Epub 2001 Dec 18.


This study was a randomised controlled trial designed to assess the effectiveness of progressive muscle relaxation training (PMRT) in the clinical management of chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting as an adjuvant intervention to accompany pharmacological antiemetic treatment (metoclopramide and dexamethasone i.v.). Seventy-one chemotherapy-naive breast cancer patients of an outpatient oncology unit of a university hospital in Hong Kong participated, with 38 subjects randomised to the experimental group and 33 to the control group. The intervention included the use of PMRT 1 h before chemotherapy was administered and daily thereafter for another 5 days (for a total of six PMRT sessions). Each session lasted for 25 min and was followed by 5 min of imagery techniques. The instruments used for data collection included the Chinese versions of the Profile of Mood States and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (measured before chemotherapy and then at day 7 and day 14 after chemotherapy), and the Morrow Assessment of Nausea and Vomiting Scale, which was used daily for the first 7 post-chemotherapy days. The use of PMRT considerably decreased the duration of nausea and vomiting in the experimental group compared with the control group ( P<0.05), whereas there were trends toward a lower frequency of nausea and vomiting ( P=0.07 and P=0.08 respectively). Neither nausea nor vomiting differed in intensity between the two groups. The significant effects were mainly evident on the first 4 post-chemotherapy days, when differences were statistically significant. Although there was a significantly less severe overall mood disturbance in the experimental group over time ( P<0.05), this did not apply in the case of anxiety. Such findings suggest that PMRT is a useful adjuvant technique to complement antiemetics for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and that incorporation of such interventions in the care plan can enhance the standards of care of cancer patients who experience side effects of chemotherapy.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antiemetics / therapeutic use
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Manifest Anxiety Scale
  • Nausea / chemically induced
  • Nausea / prevention & control
  • Nausea / psychology*
  • Relaxation Therapy / standards*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Vomiting, Anticipatory / prevention & control
  • Vomiting, Anticipatory / psychology*


  • Antiemetics
  • Antineoplastic Agents