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Use of a Biofeedback Breathing App to Augment Poststress Physiological Recovery: Randomized Pilot Study

Plans, David, Morelli, Davide, Sütterlin, Stefan, Ollis, Lucie, Derbyshire, Georgia and Cropley, Mark (2019) Use of a Biofeedback Breathing App to Augment Poststress Physiological Recovery: Randomized Pilot Study JMIR Formative Research, 3 (1).

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Background: The speed of physiological recovery from stress may be a marker for cardiovascular disease risk. Stress management programs that incorporate guided breathing have been shown to moderate the stress response and augment recovery.

Objective: The aim of this study was to examine the effectiveness of an app-based brief relaxation intervention (BioBase) for facilitating physiological recovery in individuals exposed to a brief psychological stressor.

Methods: A total of 75 participants (44 women) completed a stressor speech task and were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: control, rumination, or an app-based relaxation breathing (BioBase) conditions. Heart rate variability (HRV) was assessed as a measure of autonomic function at baseline (6 min), during stress (6 min), and during recovery (6 min).

Results: There was a significant increase in subjective stress following stress exposure, but the ratings returned to baseline after recovery in all three groups. In addition, there was a significant decrease in vagally mediated HRV in the poststress period. During recovery, the root mean square of successive differences (P˂.001), the percentage of successive interbeat (RR) intervals that differ by ˃50 ms (pNN50; P˂.001), and high-frequency (P˂.02) HRV were significantly higher in the BioBase breathing condition than the rumination and control conditions. There was no difference in HRV values between the rumination and control conditions during recovery.

Conclusions: App-based relaxed breathing interventions could be effective in reducing cardiovascular disease risk. These results provide additional utility of biofeedback breathing in augmenting physiological recovery from psychological stress.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences > School of Psychology
Authors :
Sütterlin, Stefan
Derbyshire, Georgia
Date : 11 January 2019
DOI : 10.2196/12227
Copyright Disclaimer : © David Plans, Davide Morelli, Stefan Sütterlin, Lucie Ollis, Georgia Derbyshire, Mark Cropley. Originally published in JMIR Formative Research (, 11.01.2019. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR Formative Research, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.
Uncontrolled Keywords : Biofeedback; Breathing; Heart rate variability; Recovery; Rumination; Stress
Depositing User : Clive Harris
Date Deposited : 30 Jan 2019 11:35
Last Modified : 30 Jan 2019 11:35

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