Research: STETTER and KUPPER

Listed in Issue 85


STETTER and KUPPER, Oberbergklinik Extertal for Psychotherapy, psychiatry, and Psuchosomatic Medicine, Brede 29, D-32699 Extertal, Germany,, analyze clinical outcome studies of autogenic training.


Autogenic training is a self-relaxation procedure eliciting a psychophysiological relaxation response.


73 controlled outcome studies were found published between 1952 and 1999. 60 studies, of which 36 were randomized controlled trials (RCTs), qualified for inclusion in this meta-analysis.


Medium to large effect sizes were found in pre treatment/post treatment comparisons, with the RCTs showing larger effects. When autogenic training was compared to real control conditions, medium effects were found. Comparison of autogenic training to other psychological treatments mostly resulted in no effects or small negative effects. Unspecific autogenic training effects such effects on mood, cognitive performance, quality of life, and physiological variables, tended to be larger than main effects. A separate meta-analysis for different disorders revealed a significant reduction of the heterogeneity of effect sizes.


Positive effects of autogenic training in the meta-analysis of at least 3 studies were found for tension headache/migraine, essential hypertension, coronary heart disease, bronchial asthma, somatoform pain disorder, Raynaud’s disease, anxiety disorders, depression, and functional sleep disorders.


Stetter F, Kupper S. Autogenic training: a meta-analysis of clinical outcome studies. Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback 27 (1): 45-98, Mar 2002.


These are impressive results for a treatment which is probably unknown outside of the cognoscenti in the psychological world. Positive effects of autogenic training for such serious conditions such as hypertension, heart disease, asthma, Raynaud’s disease and depression need to become more widely known in the clinical world, to provide patients with real choice in their treatment.

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