Effects of Relaxation Therapy on Anxiety Disorders: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Arch Psychiatr Nurs. 2018 Apr;32(2):278-284. doi: 10.1016/j.apnu.2017.11.015. Epub 2017 Nov 21.


Aim: To explore the effect of relaxation therapy applied to people with anxiety disorders.

Methods: Systematic review with meta-analysis.

Results: Sixteen Randomized Control Trials (RCTs) were included for meta-analysis to determine the effect of relaxation therapy. The overall effect of relaxation therapy on symptom of anxiety was significant with Hedges' g=0.62 (95% CI: 0.42-0.81), which indicates a medium-high effect; heterogeneity was statistically significant with I2=48.84. Subgroup analysis exploring the possible causes of heterogeneity found that types of comparison of TAU and CBT was significant (Q=4.20, p=0.04). The effect of relaxation therapy on symptoms of depression, phobia, and worry was significant; Hedges' g=0.44 (95% CI: 0.30-0.59), 0.40 (95% CI: 0.06-0.75), 0.54 (95% CI: 0.28-0.79), respectively.

Conclusion: The results of this study provide evidence for the effectiveness of relaxation therapy for people with anxiety disorders. Therefore, relaxation therapy can be selected as a useful intervention for reducing negative emotions in people with anxiety disorders.

Keywords: Anxiety disorder; Meta-analysis; Relaxation.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Humans
  • Relaxation Therapy / methods*