Background: In general, women report higher stress levels than men. High baseline anxiety, depression, and stress levels are associated with greater risk of cardiovascular diseases. Current evidence for efficacy of stress management interventions for women is limited. This study aimed at assessing the effect of a stress management and resiliency training (SMART) program for decreasing stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms. Methods: Fifty moderately or severely stressed Women's Heart/Preventive Cardiology Clinic patients consented to the SMART intervention delivered online (n = 36) or in-person (n = 9). Primary outcome measures were the observed changes between baseline and at 12 weeks for the following psychometric tools: General Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7), Patient Health Questionnaires (PHQ-9), Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), and Brief Resiliency Scale (BRS). Results: Forty-five patients completed the study. We observed significant improvements in PSS and GAD-7, but not in PHQ-9 or BRS, after the SMART intervention. When assessing outcomes among those with depressive symptoms at baseline (PHQ-9 > 15), we observed significant changes in PSS, GAD-7, and PHQ-9. No differences between online and in-person program delivery methods were found (all p-values >0.05). Conclusions: Training exposure using the SMART program to decrease stress and anxiety in women seeking preventive cardiology services was feasible and similarly effective, whether delivered online or in a single in-person session. Impacts on depression and resilience likely require a more intensive approach. In the future, larger randomized clinical trials with additional training and longer follow-up are warranted.
Keywords: cardiovascular disease; depressive symptoms; resiliency; stress management; women's heart.