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Gazzetta Medica Italiana Archivio per le Scienze Mediche 2001 February;160(1):1-7


language: Italian

Relaxation therapy as a cure for smoking

Di Marzo A. 1, Sarri S. 2, Fares M. C. 3

1 Policlinico Universitario «A. Gemelli» - Roma, Istituto Medicina Interna e Geriatria, Facoltà di Medicina e Chirurgia «A. Gemelli» - Roma; 2 Policlinico Universitario «A. Gemelli» - Roma, Corso di Diploma Universitario per Infermiere; 3 Policlinico Universitario «A. Gemelli» - Roma, Istituto di Radiologia, Divisione di Radioterapia


Background. To evaluate the efficacy of a relaxation method (Respiratory Autogenic Training) as a cure for smoking.
Methods. a) In a preliminary evidence-based study, a number of heavy smokers, frequenting a pneumological outpatient clinic, attended a therapeutic cycle comprising eight group sessions, twice a week, with a 3-month follow-up. b) Six subjects, who had expressed a voluntary desire to give up smoking, irrespective of any smoking-related pathologies, were selected excluding any patients suffering from a severely debilitating disease. c) Each relaxation session was taken by a doctor who was an expert in autogenic training and was followed by a discussion of individual experience. The participants repeated the therapy every day at home. d) Questionnaires to study personality (MMPI), anxiety and depression (ASQ, CDQ) were distributed to participants. Blood levels of carboxyhemoglobin — a marker of cigarette smoking — were assayed before and after treatment. The participants noted the number of cigarettes smoked and the number of relaxation sessions performed on a weekly record sheet.
Results. One of the three subjects who completed the study almost succeeded in stopping smoking and another reduced the daily number of cigarettes to about ten, up until the 3rd month; no change was reported in the third subject. The percentage of carboxyhemoglobin in the blood fell in the first two subjects from 3.7 to 2.1, and from 9.7 to 5.4% respectively, and remained constant in the third.
Conclusions. The results of the study are only indicative, based on purely clinical observation. They confirm the value of a relaxation method used to give up smoking by fostering greater personal control. The results are encouraging, although they have no statistical value owing to the small size of the sample. The authors are continuing the study in a larger population of smokers and using a control group.

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