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December 2021

Autogenic training for stress and anxiety: a systematic review

Author(s): Ernst, E.

Abstract: Objective:The aim of this systematic review was to evaluate all controlled trials of autogenic training (AT) as a means of reducing stress and anxiety levels in human subjects. Method:A search for all published and unpublished controlled trials was carried out in the four major databases, specifically CISCOM, Medline, PsychLit and CINAHL. Results: Eight such trials were located, all of which are included here.The majority of trials were methodologically flawed.A range of outcome measures were used, with Spielberger's State-Trait Anxiety Inventory being the most popular. Deviations from the accepted technique of AT were conspicuous and trials using the classical AT were in the minority. Seven trials reported positive effects of AT in reducing stress. One study showed no such benefit. Since one trial had used AT in combination with another technique, visual imagery, no conclusion can be drawn about the effect of AT in this case. Conclusion: No firm conclusions could be drawn from this systematic review. AT, properly applied, remains to be tested in controlled trials that are appropriately planned and executed.

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