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Effect of the Emotional Freedom Technique on Perceived Stress, Quality of Life, and Cortisol Salivary Levels in Tension-Type Headache Sufferers

Citation: Bougea, A. M., Spandideas, N., Alexopoulos, E. C., Thomaides, T., Chrousos, G. P., & Darviri, C. (2013). Effect of the Emotional Freedom Technique on Perceived Stress, Quality of Life, and Cortisol Salivary Levels in Tension-Type Headache Sufferers: A Randomized Controlled Trial. EXPLORE: The Journal of Science and Healing, 9(2), 91-99. doi:10.1016/j. Explore.2012.12.005. Click here to view Abstract http://goo.gl/ycILOu

Abstract

Objective: To evaluate the short-term effects of the emotional freedom technique (EFT) on tension-type headache (TTH) sufferers.

Design: We used a parallel-group design, with participants randomly assigned to the emotional freedom intervention (n = 19) or a control arm (standard care n = 16).

Setting: The study was conducted at the outpatient Headache Clinic at the Korgialenio Benakio Hospital of Athens.

Participants: Thirty-five patients meeting criteria for frequent TTH according to International Headache Society guidelines were enrolled.

Intervention: Participants were instructed to use the EFT method twice a day for two months.

Outcome Measures: Study measures included the Perceived Stress Scale, the Multidimensional Health Locus of Control Scale, and the Short-Form questionnaire-36. Salivary cortisol levels and the frequency and intensity of headache episodes were also assessed.

Results: Within the treatment arm, perceived stress, scores for all Short-Form questionnaire-36 subscales, and the frequency and intensity of the headache episodes were all significantly reduced. No differences in cortisol levels were found in any group before and after the intervention.

Conclusions: EFT was reported to benefit patients with TTH. This randomized controlled trial shows promising results for not only the frequency and severity of headaches but also other lifestyle parameters. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Editor’s Note

Tension Type Headaches (TTH) affect 78% of people in a lifetime and has a public health cost greater than migraines. Stress is considered to be a major causative factor in this condition. This is another important physical conditions study and was conducted at an outpatient university headache Clinic in Athens, Greece with 35 patients who meet the criteria for frequent TTH. The patients were instructed on the use and procedure of EFT and to utilize the procedure twice per day for 8 weeks. Measurements included the Perceived Stress Scale, the Multidimensional Health Locus of Control Scale, the Short Form Questionaire-36 (SF-36) and salivary cortisol measurements (taken twice per day). Both the intervention and control group were also informed about the roles of stress and stressors and told about healthy diet and exercise. The results for the treatment group included a statistically significant reduction of perceived stress as well as the frequent and intensity of the headache episodes were significantly reduced while the TTH frequency increased in the control group. No significant difference was noted in the measured cortisol levels before and after the intervention. Researcher’s conclusion: “EFT was reported to benefit patients with TTH. This randomized controlled trial shows promising results for not only the frequency and severity of headaches but also other lifestyle parameters.”