Effects of a relaxation training programme on immediate and prolonged stress responses in women with preterm labour

J Adv Nurs. 2012 Jan;68(1):170-80. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2011.05765.x. Epub 2011 Jul 20.


Aim: This paper is a report of an experimental study of the effects of relaxation-training programme on immediate and prolonged stress responses in women with preterm labour.

Background: Hospitalized pregnant women with preterm labour experience developmental and situational stress. However, few studies have been performed on stress management in such women.

Methods: An experimental pretest and repeated post-test design was used to compare the outcomes for two groups in northern Taiwan from December 2008, to May 2010. A total of 129 women were randomly assigned to an experimental (n = 68) or control (n = 61) group. The experimental group participants were instructed to listen daily to a 13-minute relaxation programme. Measurements involved the stress visual analogue scale, finger temperatures, State Trait Anxiety Inventory, Perceived Stress Scale and Pregnancy-related Anxiety. Two-way analysis of variance and hierarchical linear modelling were used to analyse the group differences.

Results: Compared with those in the control group, participants in the experimental group showed immediate improvements in the stress visual analogue scale scores and finger temperatures. The State Trait Anxiety Inventory-State subscale score for the experimental group was significantly lower than that for the control group (P = 0·03). However, no statistically significant differences for the Perceived Stress Scale and Pregnancy-related Anxiety scores were found between the experimental group and the control group.

Conclusions: The relaxation-training programme could improve the stress responses of women with preterm labour.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Anxiety / therapy
  • Clinical Nursing Research
  • Female
  • Fingers / blood supply
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Midwifery
  • Obstetric Labor, Premature / nursing
  • Obstetric Labor, Premature / psychology
  • Obstetric Labor, Premature / therapy*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / nursing
  • Pregnancy Complications / psychology
  • Pregnancy Complications / therapy*
  • Prenatal Care*
  • Psychological Theory
  • Regional Blood Flow
  • Relaxation Therapy / education
  • Relaxation Therapy / methods*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Skin Temperature / physiology
  • Stress, Psychological / nursing
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology
  • Stress, Psychological / therapy*
  • Taiwan
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome