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Internet-based stress management programmes can effectively reduce stress in users, according to new research.
Cleveland Clinic, based in the US state of Ohio, has published research that shows the use of internet-based stress management programmes has a hugely beneficial effect on professionals that exhibit symptoms of work-based stress.
The programmes focus around providing relaxation practice materials, meditation tips, coping strategies, relaxation techniques and situational stress self-assessments. All 300 of the participants followed an eight-week regime where they regularly used the materials provided to them.
Participants in the study were given a 'stress score' that acted as a measure of their daily stress levels. Those involved in the study had an average Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) of 23.05 before they started using web-based stress programmes - compared to the general population's average PSS of 12.9.
The average reduction in PSS was 6.12 in those that used the programme five days a week, reducing their score to a more manageable 16.93.
While this score is still above what would be expected among people with normal stress levels, the reduction shows that internet-based stress management programmes offer significant promise as a complementary therapy, with face-to-face counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy as primary stress reduction methods.
"Our recent findings provide individuals and employers with a new option to consider for themselves or their employees' stress management" said Michael Roizen, managing director and chief wellness officer at Cleveland Clinic.
"Unmanaged stress causes some of the highest healthcare costs for employers and has a lasting impact on everyone; this study implies such health effect may be readily reduced."
Stress can cause a huge range of problems if left untreated - including high blood pressure, strokes, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
Cleveland Clinic and General Electric funded the study, with the latter looking to explore ways to decrease stress among its large employee base.
The stress management programme used is called Stress Free Now and was developed by the clinic.
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