Psychological and physiological correlates of a brief intervention to enhance self-regulation in patients with fibromyalgia

John E. Schmidt, Michael J. Joyner, Heather M. Tonyan, Kevin I. Reid, W. Michael Hooten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objectives The main objectives of this study were to determine whether training and practice of a brief focused breathing technique is associated with improvements in physiological reactivity to a standard laboratory stressor [cold pressor test] and improvements in affect [anxiety, depression], self-efficacy, fatigue, sleep quality, and pain measures.Methods The patients for this study were diagnosed with fibromyalgia syndrome [N20]. Study patients completed an initial laboratory assessment including a diaphragmatic breathing training session. Patients were instructed to practice the technique for three 10-min sessions daily and returned to the lab for a second assessment after two weeks.Results All study patients showed significant improvements in pain severity, fatigue, pain self-efficacy, cold pressor tolerance, and heart rate variability indices between the two laboratory assessments.Conclusions The study results suggest that the practice of a brief diaphragmatic breathing technique is associated with significant changes in a number of areas of physiological and psychological functioning in patients with fibromyalgia. In particular, the increase in the heart rate variability total power may represent a significant change in post-training self-regulatory ability. The greater improvements in somatic symptoms suggest that using this diaphragmatic breathing technique daily may enhance the inhibitory ability of sympathetic tone, achieving improved autonomic balance, physiological reactivity, and daily functioning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)211-221
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Musculoskeletal Pain
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2012


  • Diaphragmatic breathing
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Heart rate variability
  • Psychophysiology
  • Self-regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology


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