Efficacy of progressive muscle relaxation training in reducing anxiety in patients with acute schizophrenia

J Clin Nurs. 2009 Aug;18(15):2187-96. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2702.2008.02773.x.


Aim and objectives: The objective of this study was to examine the efficacy of progressive muscle relaxation training on anxiety in patients with acute schizophrenia.

Background: Many empirical studies have found progressive muscle relaxation training beneficial in reducing the psychological effects of anxiety. Progressive muscle relaxation training is also effective in reducing the distress symptoms associated with the symptomatology of schizophrenia.

Design: An experimental randomised controlled trial using repeated measures.

Method: The study was designed to examine the effects of progressive muscle relaxation training on patients diagnosed with schizophrenia. Study participants were acute psychiatric inpatients in Taiwan. Eighteen patients were block randomised and then assigned to an experimental or control group. The experimental group received progressive muscle relaxation training and the control group received a placebo intervention. Results from the Beck anxiety inventory were compared between groups as a pretest before intervention, on day 11 of intervention and one week post-test after the intervention was completed. Changes in finger temperature were measured throughout the experiment.

Results: The degree of anxiety improvement was significantly higher in the progressive muscle relaxation training group than in the control group after progressive muscle relaxation training intervention (p < 0.0001) and at follow-up (p = 0.0446; the mean BAI score fell from 16.4 pretest to -5.8 post-test. After adjusting for the change in patient finger temperature, the mean change in temperature was significantly different between the two patient groups. The average body temperature increased significantly after applying the progressive muscle relaxation training to patients with schizophrenia.

Conclusion: This study demonstrated that progressive muscle relaxation training can effectively alleviate anxiety in patients with schizophrenia.

Relevance to clinical practice: Progressive muscle relaxation training is potentially an effective nursing intervention in the reduction of anxiety in patients diagnosed with schizophrenia, depending on the quality of their mental status at the time of intervention. Progressive muscle relaxation training is a useful intervention as it is proven to reduce anxiety levels across a spectrum of psychiatric disorders.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Anxiety / diagnosis
  • Anxiety / etiology
  • Anxiety / physiopathology
  • Anxiety / prevention & control*
  • Body Temperature
  • Clinical Nursing Research
  • Female
  • Fingers / blood supply
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Regression Analysis
  • Relaxation Therapy / methods*
  • Relaxation Therapy / nursing
  • Schizophrenia / complications*
  • Schizophrenia / diagnosis
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Taiwan
  • Treatment Outcome