E Bakner
N Martin


E. Bakner & N. Martin

Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, WA

PURPOSE: The overall goal of this study was to examine whether a 4-week emwave HRV biofeedback intervention would reduce anxiety students exhibit during their senior capstone presentations. The following hypothesis was developed: 1) a significant between group difference in post-test state anxiety will exist. METHODS: Participants included nine graduating kinesiology students enrolled in the senior capstone course at a small, liberal arts university in the Pacific Northwest. All participants completed pre and post-test surveys assessing anxiety (STAI-state trait anxiety inventory, Spielberger, 1983), were provided instruction and completed an emwave familiarization session at pre-test, while the experimental group had unlimited access to the emwave software, instructed to complete one 5-minute session 4 days a week in addition to anytime in which they practiced their capstone presentation. The control group consisted of 5 participants while the experimental was comprised of four. Experimental group participants were also provided instructional materials on deliberate breathing, mindfulness, and positive affirmations and required to check in with the lead researcher once per week. Between group differences in posttest anxiety and emwave coherence was analyzed using a repeated measures ANOVA with the significance value set at p <0.05. RESULTS: A repeated measures ANOVA was conducted that examined the effect of the 4-week emwave HRV biofeedback intervention on state anxiety. A statistically significant interaction for the effect of the emwave HRV biofeedback intervention on post-test state anxiety F(1,7) = 110.87, p = .000 was found. As hypothesized, control group state anxiety increased from pre to posttest (pre M =50.00 ± 13.10, post M = 60.00 ± 12.31), while experimental group state anxiety decreased from pre to posttest (pre M =58.50 ± 14.06, post M = 39.50 ± 11.45). CONCLUSION: A direct coping skills unit can be useful for students, especially with professor encouragement, unlimited access, and intermittent discussion groups regarding experience. This intervention is effective for reducing state anxiety, however trait anxiety reduction may be achievable with long-term persistence and systematic change to cognitive and behavioral reactions to stress provoking situations. Other research has also shown that short duration interventions using emwave biofeedback are effective in reducing both physiological and psychological stress.

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