Skip to main content Skip to search
Biofeedback and Primary Care
Primary Care: Clinics in Office Practice
Format: Journal Article
Publication Year: 2010
Pages: 91 - 103
Source ID: shanti-sources-34166
Abstract: Biofeedback is defined as a process that enables an individual to learn how to change physiologic activity for the purposes of improving health and performance. Precise instruments measure physiologic activity such as brainwaves, heart function, breathing, muscle activity, and skin temperature. These instruments rapidly and accu- rately feed back information to the user. The presentation of this information—often in conjunction with changes in thinking, emotions, and behavior—supports desired physiologic changes. Over time, these changes can endure without continued use of an instrument (29).The most prominent use of biofeedback is to train individuals in physiologic relaxa- tion and stress reduction. It long has been known that yogis and others who practice eastern mind–body techniques can induce a state of relaxation sufficient to greatly slow their heart rate and influence other autonomic processes. Since the 1950s, the technology has become available to allow individuals to attain similar physiologic states that previously had been assumed to be outside of conscious control. In tandem with this development, knowledge of the physiologic stress response has increased greatly over the last several decades. Combining the research knowledge of the physiologic changes associated with stressful situations together with learning theory, psychologists employed the available technology (eg, EMG) to allow patients to observe and learn to change their stress response patterns. Over the last 30 years, there has been a dramatic growth in the use of biofeedback, in terms of forms of feed- back used, conditions that may be treated, and clinical trials research supporting the efficacy of treatment.30 There are an estimated 1500 certified biofeedback practi- tioners in the United States and a recent survey of usage of complementary therapies found a doubling from 0.1% of adults in 2002 to 0.2% in 2007 who reported using biofeedback during the previous year (31).