To examine the benefits of relaxation training for patients with NIDDM and to investigate individual differences that could predict a positive response to relaxation training.
Thirty-eight subjects with NIDDM were treated with intensive conventional diabetes therapy after an initial metabolic evaluation and psychological and pharmacological testing. Half were assigned to also receive biofeedback-assisted relaxation training. Treatment effects on GHb levels and glucose tolerance were evaluated after 8 wk.
Subjects demonstrated significant improvements in GHb level, but not in glucose tolerance, after 8 wk of intensive conventional treatment. These improvements persisted throughout the follow-up period. However, the group provided with relaxation training did not experience greater improvements on either measure than the group given conventional diabetes treatment only. Within the group that received relaxation training, correlations occurred between the improvements in glucose tolerance after treatment and individual differences in trait anxiety and in the effect of alprazolam on glucose tolerance. Differences in the effects of EPI on glucose tolerance and personality measures of neuroticism and perceived locus of control also appeared to be related to improvements in glucose tolerance after training.
Relaxation training did not confer added benefit over and above that provided by conventional diabetes treatment for patients with NIDDM. Additional research is needed to determine whether the administration of relaxation training to selected patients, especially those who are most responsive to stress, would provide benefits for glucose control that are not achieved by conventional treatment.