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Adv Mind Body Med. 2015 Spring;29(2):6-14.

Teacher-led relaxation response curriculum in an urban high school: impact on student behavioral health and classroom environment.

Abstract

CONTEXT:

Recent data suggest that severe stress during the adolescent period is becoming a problem of epidemic proportions. Elicitation of the relaxation response (RR) has been shown to be effective in treating anxiety, reducing stress, and increasing positive health behaviors.

OBJECTIVE:

The research team's objective was to assess the impact of an RR-based curriculum, led by teachers, on the psychological status and health management behaviors of high-school students and to determine whether a train-the-trainer model would be feasible in a high-school setting.

DESIGN:

The research team designed a pilot study.

SETTING:

The setting was a Horace Mann charter school within Boston's public school system.

PARTICIPANTS:

Participants were teachers and students at the charter school.

INTERVENTION:

The team taught teachers a curriculum that included (1) relaxation strategies, such as breathing and imagery; (2) psychoeducation regarding mind-body pathways; and (3) positive psychology. Teachers implemented this curriculum with students.

OUTCOME MEASURES:

The research team assessed changes in student outcomes (eg, stress, anxiety, and stress management behaviors) using preintervention/postintervention surveys, including the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory-Form Y (STAI-Y), the stress management subscale of the Health-promoting Lifestyle Profile II (HPLP-II), the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSES), the Locus of Control (LOC) questionnaire, and the Life Orientation Test-Revised (LOTR). Classroom observations using the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS)-Secondary were also completed to assess changes in classroom environment.

RESULTS:

Using a Bonferroni correction (P < .007), the study found that students experienced a significant reduction (P < .001) in measures of state-level anxiety on the STAI from pre- to postintervention. The study also found an increase in the use of stress management behaviors at that point. Using a Bonferroni correction (P < .007), the study found that students had significantly less perceived stress (P < .001), less state anxiety (P < .001) and trait anxiety (P < . 001), and increased use of positive stress management behaviors (P < .004) at the follow-up assessment in the fall of the following year. Using a Bonferroni correction (P < .002), the study found a significant increase in overall classroom productivity (eg, increased time spent on activities and instruction from pre- to postintervention).

CONCLUSIONS:

This study showed that teachers can lead an RR curriculum with fidelity and suggests that such a curriculum has positive benefits on student emotional and behavioral health and on classroom functioning.

PMID:
25831429
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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