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Relaxation and Heart Rate Variability

This study has been completed.
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
M.D. Anderson Cancer Center Identifier:
First received: August 12, 2008
Last updated: November 15, 2011
Last verified: November 2011


  • To characterize the physiologic changes of the autonomic nervous system, demonstrated by heart rate variability (HRV) high frequency (HF) spectral analysis, before and after a 15 minute, one-time, guided relaxation program for cancer patients.


  • To assess whether change of HRV correlates with subjective feeling for anxiety, based on visual analog scale scores.

Condition Intervention
Other: Guided Relaxation

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Intervention Model: Single Group Assignment
Masking: Open Label
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: Pilot Study on the Effects of a Brief Relaxation Program on Heart Rate Variability in Cancer Patients

Further study details as provided by M.D. Anderson Cancer Center:

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • Differences Between Pre/Post ESAS Score [ Time Frame: Baseline and following completion of HRV recordings and relaxation program (45 - 60 minutes elapsed time) ]
    Total symptom burden as measured by Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS) in which there are eight visual analog scales (VAS) of 0 to 10, with 10 being most severe. The differences from ESAS baseline (before) to post (after) a 15 minute, one-time, guided relaxation program for each participant assessed, with the average difference in ESAS scores for all participants reported.

Enrollment: 20
Study Start Date: June 2008
Study Completion Date: September 2008
Primary Completion Date: September 2008 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Arms Assigned Interventions
Experimental: Guided Relaxation
Heart rate variability (HRV) high frequency (HF) spectral analysis, before and after a 15 minute, one-time, guided relaxation program
Other: Guided Relaxation
Following 5 minute questionnaire, 15 minute rest and 5 minute heart rhythm recording, 15 minute relaxation program (listening via headphone to audio recording) to be completed by second heart rhythm recording and same questionnaire. Entire procedure 45-60 minutes.
Other Names:
  • Relaxation Therapy
  • Guided Relaxation Program

Detailed Description:

Rhythm changes in your heart rate are part of the "autonomic" nervous system. This is the part of your nervous system that controls the body functions that you do not have to think about. Researchers want to find out if a "guided relaxation" session will make your heart rate more variable, with more rhythm changes.

If you are found to be eligible to take part in this study, you will first answer a brief questionnaire that will measure several symptoms, such as pain and anxiety (worry). This questionnaire will take less than 5 minutes. You will also be asked questions about your alcohol and smoking history, and if you have ever used relaxation or meditation techniques in the past. This will also take less than 5 minutes.

You will then be asked to lay on your back, on a hospital bed or exam table. Electrodes will be placed along your chest, the same way they are placed for an electrocardiogram (ECG--a test to measure the electrical activity of the heart). You will be asked to rest for 15 minutes, and then your heart rhythm will be recorded for 5 minutes. After this first recording, you will begin the relaxation program by listening to an audio recording for about 15 minutes, using headphones. After the relaxation program has ended, your heart rhythm will be recorded for another 5-minute period while you are resting.

You will then be asked to complete the same questionnaire as before.

The entire procedure will take about 45-60 minutes. After this second questionnaire, your participation on this study will be over.

This is an investigational study. Up to 20 people will take part in this study. All will be enrolled at M. D. Anderson.


Ages Eligible for Study:   Child, Adult, Senior
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No

Inclusion Criteria:

  1. Written informed consent
  2. Normal cognition (per treating physician's assessment)

Exclusion Criteria:

  1. Dementia
  2. Psychosis
  3. Delirium
  4. Not fluent in English
  5. Cardiac dysrhythmia
  6. Inability to lay supine
  7. Pacemaker
  Contacts and Locations
Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the Contacts provided below. For general information, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT00735618

United States, Texas
UT MD Anderson Cancer Center
Houston, Texas, United States, 77030
Sponsors and Collaborators
M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
Principal Investigator: Ying Guo, MD U.T. M.D. Anderson Cancer Center Professor
  More Information

Additional Information:
Responsible Party: M.D. Anderson Cancer Center Identifier: NCT00735618     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: 2008-0028
Study First Received: August 12, 2008
Results First Received: March 3, 2009
Last Updated: November 15, 2011

Keywords provided by M.D. Anderson Cancer Center:
Advanced Cancer
Cancer Patients
Relaxation Therapy
Relaxation and Heart Rate Variability
Guided Relaxation
Stress, Anxiety, and Panic Disorder processed this record on May 25, 2017