Aim. This paper is a report of an experimental study of the effects of relaxation-training programme on immediate and prolonged stress responses in women with preterm labour. Background. Hospitalized pregnant women with preterm labour experience developmental and situational stress. However, few studies have been performed on stress management in such women. Methods. An experimental pretest and repeated post-test design was used to compare the outcomes for two groups in northern Taiwan from December 2008, to May 2010. A total of 129 women were randomly assigned to an experimental (n=68) or control (n=61) group. The experimental group participants were instructed to listen daily to a 13-minute relaxation programme. Measurements involved the stress visual analogue scale, finger temperatures, State Trait Anxiety Inventory, Perceived Stress Scale and Pregnancy-related Anxiety. Two-way analysis of variance and hierarchical linear modelling were used to analyse the group differences. Results. Compared with those in the control group, participants in the experimental group showed immediate improvements in the stress visual analogue scale scores and finger temperatures. The State Trait Anxiety Inventory-State subscale score for the experimental group was significantly lower than that for the control group (P=0·03). However, no statistically significant differences for the Perceived Stress Scale and Pregnancy-related Anxiety scores were found between the experimental group and the control group. Conclusions. The relaxation-training programme could improve the stress responses of women with preterm labour.
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