Exploring the Effects of a Brief Biofeedback Breathing Session Delivered Through the BioBase App in Facilitating Employee Stress Recovery: Randomized Experimental Study.
Chelidoni O., Plans D., Ponzo S., Morelli D., Cropley M.
BACKGROUND: Recovery from stress is a predictive factor for cardiovascular health, and heart rate variability (HRV) is suggested to be an index of how well people physiologically recover from stress. Biofeedback and mindfulness interventions that include guided breathing have been shown to be effective in increasing HRV and facilitating stress recovery. OBJECTIVE: This study aims to assess the effectiveness of a brief app-based breathing intervention (BioBase) in enhancing physiological recovery among employees who were induced to cognitive and emotional stress. METHODS: In total, we recruited 75 full-time employees. Interbeat (RR) intervals were recorded continuously for 5 min at baseline and during cognitive and emotional stress induction. The session ended with a 5-min recovery period during which participants were randomly allocated into 3 conditions: app-based breathing (BioBase), mindfulness body scan, or control. Subjective tension was assessed at the end of each period. RESULTS: Subjective tension significantly increased following stress induction. HRV significantly decreased following the stress period. In the recovery phase, the root mean square of successive RR interval differences (P=.002), the percentage of successive RR intervals that differed by >50 ms (P=.008), and high frequency (P=.01) were significantly higher in the BioBase breathing condition than in the mindfulness body scan and the control groups. CONCLUSIONS: Biofeedback breathing interventions digitally delivered through a commercially available app can be effective in facilitating stress recovery among employees. These findings contribute to the mobile health literature on the beneficial effects of brief app-based breathing interventions on employees' cardiovascular health.