Self‑Regulatory Biofeedback Training: An Intervention to Reduce School Burnout and Improve Cardiac functioning in college students

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Self‑Regulatory Biofeedback Training: An Intervention to Reduce School Burnout and Improve Cardiac functioning in college students

Published on: 20-10-2018

With the detrimental relationship between school burnout and physiological and cognitive functioning now well documented, interventions to ameliorate school burnout symptomology are needed. This study examined the effectiveness of a self-regulatory biofeedback intervention program (Heart RateVariability Coherence Biofeedback Training [HRVCB]) in contrast to a protocol demonstrated to produce cognitive and physiological improvements (a high intensity interval training protocol [HIIT]) as well as a wait-list control condition at decreasing school burnout in an American collegiate sample (N=90).Intervention training was conducted over a 4-week span (three sessions per week) with accompanying baseline and post-intervention assessments. In addition to measurements of school burnout and negative affect (depression and anxiety), intervention influences on cognition (via a serial subtraction task) and physiology (hemodynamics, electrocardiography, and a submaximal cardiorespiratory fitness test) were explored. Findings indicate HRVCB training significantly decreased school burnout and increased mathematical performance from pre- to post-intervention measurement. These changes did not occur for HIIT or waitlist participants. Brachial and aortic systolic blood pressure decreased pre to post-intervention for HRVCB but not HIIT or waitlist participants. Cardiovascular fitness (VO2max) improved pre topost-intervention for HIIT but not HRVCB or waitlist participants. Also, both HRVCB and HIIT trainingparticipants decreased heart rate from pre to post-intervention but not waitlist participants. Finally, all participants decreased cardiac sympathovagal tone from pre to post-intervention. These findings provide evidence that HRVCB training programs can decrease school burnout as well as improve components associated with cardiac health. Study limitations and directions for future research are discussed.

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