Biofeedback in somatoform disorders and related syndromes

  • Nanke A
  • Rief W
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Abstract

Purpose of review: Patients often present with symptoms such as headache, muscle pain, non-cardiac chest pain, etc. that have no medical explanation. There is, therefore, the need for effective treatment options. Biofeedback has been suggested because of its goal to enhance control over the psychophysiological processes that may be involved. The aim of this review is to give an overview of the use and evidence of biofeedback therapy in somatoform disorders and related syndromes on the basis of recent publications. Recent findings: Considerable evidence suggests that biofeedback is effective in tension-type headache (in adults and children), whereas its benefits in other conditions (e.g. fibromyalgia, non-cardiac chest pain) are less clear. Recent research has shown benefits for patients with formerly 'neglected' conditions such as vulvodynia and children's somatoform pain disorder. These results now need to be confirmed in larger randomized controlled trials. Biofeedback seems to be a highly credible intervention for patients suffering from somatoform complaints, and a useful tool to demonstrate body-mind connections. Summary: It would appear that there is still the need to evaluate the efficacy of biofeedback for somatoform disorders, especially in conditions other than headache. Biofeedback seems to be a promising additional tool in cognitive-behavioural treatment programmes for somatoform disorders, but its role needs to be assessed in further controlled trials. © 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Biofeedback
  • Medically unexplained symptoms
  • Self-efficacy
  • Somatoform disorder
  • Treatment

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Authors

  • Alexandra Nanke

  • Winfried Rief

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