Characteristics of patients with internal diseases who use relaxation techniques as a coping strategy

Complement Ther Med. 2013 Oct;21(5):481-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2013.08.001. Epub 2013 Aug 17.


Objectives: To assess sociodemographic, clinical, and psychological characteristics of patients with internal diseases who use relaxation techniques as a coping strategy.

Design: Cross-sectional analysis among patients with internal diseases.

Setting: Department of Internal and Integrative Medicine at an academic teaching hospital in Germany.

Main outcome measures: Prior use of relaxation techniques (e.g. meditation, autogenic training), perceived benefit, and perceived harm. Potential predictors of relaxation techniques use (sociodemographic characteristics, health behavior, internal medicine diagnosis, general health status, mental health, satisfaction, and health locus of control) were tested using multiple logistic regression analysis.

Results: Of 2486 participants, 1075 (43.2%) reported to have used relaxation techniques, 648 (60.3%) reported benefits, and 11 (1.0%) reported harms. Use of relaxation techniques was independently associated with female gender (Odds ratio [OR]=1.43; 95% confidence interval [CI]=1.08-1.89), higher education (OR=1.32; 95%CI=1.03-1.71), fibromyalgia (OR=1.78; 95%CI=1.22-2.61), and internal health locus of control (OR=1.27; 95%CI=1.01-1.60). Use of relaxation techniques was negatively associated with age below 30 (OR=0.32; 95%CI=0.20-0.52) or above 64 (OR=0.65; 95%CI=0.49-0.88), full-time employment (OR=0.75; 95%CI=0.57-0.98), current smoking (OR=0.72; 95%CI=0.54-0.95), osteoarthritis (OR=0.51; 95%CI=0.34-0.77), rheumatic arthritis (OR=0.59; 95%CI=0.37-0.93), good to excellent health status (OR=0.70; 95%CI=0.52-0.96), and high life satisfaction (OR=0.78; 95%CI=0.62-0.98).

Conclusion: In a German sample of patients with internal diseases, relaxation techniques were used as a coping strategy by about 43%. Users were more likely to be middle-aged, female, well-educated, diagnosed with fibromyalgia, not smoking, not full-time employed, and not to have a good health status or high life satisfaction. A high internal health locus of control predicted relaxation techniques use. Considering health locus of control might improve adherence to relaxation techniques in internal medicine patients.

Keywords: Autogenic training; Complementary therapies; Internal medicine; Meditation; Relaxation techniques.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological / physiology*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Fibromyalgia / therapy*
  • Headache / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Relaxation Therapy*