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Disabil Rehabil. 2019 Jan 17:1-6. doi: 10.1080/09638288.2018.1554009. [Epub ahead of print]

The effects of relaxation training on depression and anxiety in people living with long-term neurological conditions.

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a Department of Paediatric Clinical Psychology , Sheffield Children's Hospital , Sheffield , UK.
b Department of Clinical Neuropsychology , Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust , Salford , UK.
c Alternative Futures Group , Manchester , UK.
d Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust , Manchester , UK.



The present study investigated the effects of a relaxation training program on self-reported depression and anxiety in participants living with long-term neurological conditions, including acquired brain injury, stroke, Parkinson's disease, and multiple sclerosis.


A five-session relaxation training program, plus a follow-up session was offered to people living with a long-term neurological condition as part of routine clinical practice, and was delivered in their own homes. A self-report measure (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale) was administered at the pre- and post-intervention time points and at follow-up, around 5 weeks after the final session. Participants also completed an individual assessment of change questionnaire at follow-up, reporting on subjective views of observed changes.


Statistically significant improvements were found on measures of both anxiety and depression following completion of the relaxation program. Scores at follow-up (mean = 5 weeks) revealed the improvement was maintained for anxiety, and there was further significant improvement for depression. Reliable change analyses from pre- to post-intervention demonstrated a clinically significant decrease in anxiety scores for 47% of participants and in depression scores for 30% of participants. No clinically significant increase in depression and anxiety was identified from pre- to post-intervention, and this was generally maintained at follow-up.


Relaxation training is proposed as a clinically effective treatment for anxiety and depression in people living with long-term neurological conditions, which could in turn lead to better functional outcomes of neurorehabilitation. The program investigated here has additional benefits of being delivered in people's own homes, which overcomes barriers to attending hospital, and is consistent with trends towards home as opposed to hospital care. This program may also be less costly to administer as it can be delivered as part of a stepped-care program by therapy assistants under supervision from qualified staff, and encourages self-management over the longer term. Design limitations may reduce the generalisability of these findings, but are clinically encouraging and should stimulate further research. Implications for Rehabilitation Relaxation training…• could be offered as an effective first-line intervention, as an alternative to medication to treat anxiety and depression to people living with Long-Term Neurological Conditions is a self-management strategy which can be taught in people's own homes, if getting out of the house is difficult can be delivered as a stepped-care intervention via therapy assistants, helping to reduce costs and demands on rehabilitation services may help to improve the functional outcomes of wider rehabilitation interventions by addressing psychological issues which can be a barrier.


Relaxation training; anxiety; depression; long-term neurological conditions; rehabilitation

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