Efficacy of functional relaxation and patient education in the treatment of somatoform heart disorders: a randomized, controlled clinical investigation

Psychosomatics. 2008 Sep-Oct;49(5):378-85. doi: 10.1176/appi.psy.49.5.378.


Background: Recurrent heart problems and, especially, chest pain in the absence of somatic heart disease is a common finding, although challenging to treat.

Objective: The authors assessed a body-oriented approach to the somatic fixation frequently seen in these patients.

Method: They conducted a controlled study to assess the effect of functional relaxation in 22 patients with non-specific chest pain. The primary outcome measures were self-reported changes on the subscales Somatization and Anxiety of the Symptom Checklist of Derogatis, as well as the subscale Cardiovascular Complaints of the Giessen Inventory of Complaints.

Results: Significant improvements of the primary outcome measures were observed in patients treated with functional relaxation, whereas no significant improvements could be seen in the control group.

Conclusion: Functional relaxation appears to be a safe and effective, non-pharmacological approach in the treatment of non-specific chest pain.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology
  • Chest Pain / physiopathology
  • Chest Pain / therapy*
  • Female
  • Heart / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Education as Topic*
  • Relaxation*
  • Somatoform Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Somatoform Disorders / therapy*
  • Young Adult