Heart rate variability biofeedback (HRVB) is a self-management strategy that guides individuals to breathe at a designated resonance frequency of the cardiovascular system. Resonant breathing may reduce FM-related symptoms as well as improve physical functioning and quality of life. Although prior research recommends HRVB for chronic pain, we found no studies testing the feasibility for individuals with FM regarding protocol adherence or acceptability of the treatment.
To determine the feasibility and acceptability of a heart rate variability biofeedback (HRVB) protocol in a group of Veterans with fibromyalgia (FM).
A multi-method feasibility and acceptability study.
A Veterans Health outpatient pain medicine clinic.
We enrolled 7 women and 3 men between the ages of 33 and 68 years with a diagnosis of FM.
We enrolled 10 veterans in a HRVB study using a recommended protocol to treat FM. Veterans were given a HRVB device, emWave2, and instructed to practice at home twice daily for 20 minutes per session. Following a 7-week intervention period, we conducted an end of study focus group. We used content analysis to develop themes to determine the feasibility of engaging in HRVB and adhering to the intervention protocol, as well as insights of veterans about the intervention.
Three common themes emerged: intervention implementation, protocol adherence, and self-awareness.
Results of this study suggest difficulties operating the emWave2 and scheduling challenges interfered with HRVB implementation. However, veterans reported self-awareness of the benefits of HRVB, positive physiological effects, and improved psychological effects. Future studies require a larger sample size to provide a deeper insight.

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