Written by Helen Cooke and the CAM-Cancer Consortium.
Updated April 29, 2016

Biofeedback

Abstract and key points

  • Biofeedback involves the use of instrumentation to monitor, amplify, and feed back information on physiological responses so that a patient can learn to regulate these responses.
  • There is presently a lack of good quality, single-intervention trials, so it is not possible to draw clear conclusions about the role of biofeedback for people with cancer.
  • Biofeedback has a good safety record.

Biofeedback involves the use of instrumentation to monitor, amplify, and feed back information on physiological responses so that a patient can learn to regulate these responses. Although some of the studies included in this summary indicate an improvement in pain relief and chemotherapy-related nausea and anxiety, these studies have not been reproduced and have considerable methodological limitations. Four of the five trials included have 12 participants or fewer per group. The only larger, well-conducted study reported no benefits when compared with relaxation and no intervention. Evidence is therefore insufficient to document the benefits of biofeedback for people with cancer.

Biofeedback is considered to have few adverse effects.

Citation

Helen Cooke, CAM-Cancer Consortium. Biofeedback [online document]. http://www.cam-cancer.org/The-Summaries/Mind-body-interventions/Biofeedback. April 29, 2016.

Document history

Most recent update and revision in November 2015 by Helen Cooke.
Summary fully updated and revised in November 2013 by Helen Cooke.
Summary fully updated and revised in September 2012 by Helen Cooke.
Summary first published in August 2011, authored by Helen Cooke.

References

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