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Breathing Retraining for Individuals Who Fear Respiratory Sensations: Examination of Safety Behavior and Coping Aid Hypotheses

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Cognitive behavioral theorists have suggested that breathing retraining may be used as a safety behavior. Safety behaviors are acts aimed at preventing or minimizing feared catastrophe and may maintain pathologic anxiety by hindering resolution of maladaptive cognitive processes. An opposing position is that breathing retraining is an effective coping aid. This study examined the safety behavior and coping aid hypotheses as they apply to breathing retraining. Individuals high in fear of respiratory sensations were randomly assigned to a psychoeducation control condition (EDU; n = 27) or a psychoeducation plus breathing retraining condition (EDU + BR; n = 30). As compared to psychoeducation alone, the addition of breathing retraining neither limited improvement of cognitive processes (e.g., anxiety sensitivity) nor added to the gains observed on measures of coping (e.g., perceived control). The findings are evaluated in light of the available literature regarding breathing retraining and the safety behavior and coping aid hypotheses.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2013

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