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  • Writer's pictureDr. Inna Khazan

Case Study: HRV Biofeedback in Healthcare Workers

A Pilot Feasibility Study

It is well-known that the COVID-19 pandemic has placed unprecedented demands on our healthcare workforce. Consequently, burnout and psychological symptoms such as traumatic stress are more common than ever among frontline providers.

Janell Mensinger

In response to this crisis, Janell L. Mensinger, Ph.D., FAED, Associate Professor in the Department of Clinical & School Psychology at Nova Southeastern University, led the implementation of a pilot feasibility study using the Optimal HRV mobile app with healthcare workers throughout the US who are enrolled in Villanova University’s COVID-19 CHAMPS Study Registry.

The research was funded by Villanova University’s Fitzpatrick College of Nursing Development Fund and Villanova’s Office of the Provost VERITAS Grant.

Participants were trained to use the Optimal HRV app to establish their resonance frequency breathing rate and practice daily HRV biofeedback as a method to improve their mind-body connection, aid in stress reduction, and enhance psychological wellbeing.

Dr. Mensinger states...

“As the project winds down, we will soon be conducting our final analyses of the results. However, I am excited to report that the preliminary findings, recently presented at the 52nd Annual meeting of the Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, are very promising! We had a fantastic overall response to the project. The speed of recruitment and enrollment spoke volumes to the need for tools like this, especially during times of protracted crises.

Participants reported the breathing techniques that go along with doing HRV biofeedback were calming and helpful with insomnia. Furthermore, I am truly impressed by our quantitative results showing the health benefits of the app in terms of self-reported perceived stress and other markers of psychological adjustment.

After two years of serving the public and making unbelievable sacrifices for others during the pandemic, we are long overdue for attending to the needs and wellbeing of our direct care providers. Adopting the Optimal HRV app for doing mindful breathing and meditative HRV biofeedback is one way healthcare organizations can support their frontline workers in caring for themselves through simple resilience building practices.

As a health psychology researcher, I look forward to bringing the Optimal HRV mobile app to new contexts where users can benefit from the relaxing effects of mindful meditations and HRV biofeedback.”

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