Literature Review / Studies on Flotation Therapy
o Focus for Study 1- to explain the effects of flotation therapy on stress-related pain
§ Study #1 -LONG TERM EFFECTS OF FLOTATION THERAPY ON STRESS-RELATED PAIN
Ø This study aimed to investigate long-term effects of the flotation-REST (restricted environmental stimulation technique) four months after treatment.
Ø Sample Size (N): 70 patients, 54 women and 16 men, participated, diagnosed as having stress-related pain.
Ø 26 participants had also the diagnosis of burnout depression.
Ø Participants were randomly assigned in equal numbers to either a control group or a flotation-REST group and participated in a total of 12 flotation-REST or control sessions.
Ø Results: Results indicated that pain areas, stress, anxiety, and depression decreased, whereas sleep quality, optimism, and prolactin increased.
Ø Positive effects generally maintained 4 months after treatment, but prolactin returned to initial levels.
Ø Conclusion: It was concluded that flotation tank therapy is an effective method for the treatment of stress related pain.
Bood et al. (2006). Eliciting the Relaxation Response With the Help of Flotation-REST (Restricted Environmental Stimulation Technique) in Patients With Stress-Related Ailments. International Journal of Stress Management, Vol 13, No. 2. 154-175.
o Focus for Study 2 – Effects of Flotation Therapy on Depression, Burn- Out Syndrome and Chronic Pain
§ Study #2- THE EMPIRICAL PHENOMENOLOGICAL PSYCHOLOGICAL METHOD
Ø A qualitative analysis (The Empirical Phenomenological Psychological method) of interviews involving 8 patients (depression, burn-out syndrome, and chronic pain) was carried out in order to obtain knowledge regarding the effects of flotation tank therapy.
Ø This knowledge might be helpful for both professionals and potential floaters.
Ø DATA: The analysis resulted in 21 categories, which were summarized as four themes: (a) experiences during flotation, (b) perceived effects afterwards, (c) technical details, and finally (d) the participants' background, motivation, and expectations.
Ø RESULTS: Floating was perceived as pleasant. An altered state of consciousness was induced, varying from a milder state including profound relaxation and altered time perception, to more powerful with perceptual changes and profound sensations such as out-of-body experiences and perinatal experiences.
Ø Web Link: http://www.nova.edu/ssss/QR/QR13-4/kjellgren.pdf
Kjellgren, A., Lyden, F., Norlander, T. (2008). Sensory Isolation in Flotation Tanks: Altered States of Consciousness and Effects on Well-being [Abstract]. The Qualitative Report, Vol 13, No. 4. 636-656.
o Focus for Study 3- Value of Flotation Therapy as Stress- Management Tool
§ Study #3 – The Value of Flotation Therapy as a Stress- Management Tool
Ø In this study, they investigated the value of flotation Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy (REST) as a stress-management tool.
Ø Dr. Dierendonck focused on the physiological effects of REST, its influence on well-being, and on performance.
Ø 27 studies published in 25 articles were included in a meta-analysis.
Ø Sample Size (N= number of participants): 449, with a mean age of 29 years (ranging between 20 and 45). 64% was male and 36% was female.
Ø Results: The results showed that REST has positive effects on physiology (e.g., lower levels of cortisol, lower blood pressure), well-being, and performance. The pre-post mean effect size and the overall randomized control group effect size were relatively strong.
Ø This suggests that despite some limitations of the original studies, flotation REST can be a useful stress management tool in addition to or instead of other stress management tools.
Dierendonck, D.V., Nijenhuis, J.T. (2005) Flotation restricted environmental stimulation therapy (REST) as a stress-management tool: A meta-analysis [Abstract]. Psychology and Health. 20(3). 405-412.
o Focus for Study 4- Effects on Sensory Isolation as a Preventative Health- Care Intervention
§ Study #4 - Sensory Isolation as a Method of Preventative Health-Care Prevention
Ø Background: Sensory isolation in a flotation tank is a method known for inducing deep relaxation and subsequent positive health effects for patients suffering from (e.g. stress or muscle tensions pains).
Ø Very few studies have investigated this method as a preventive health-care intervention.
Ø The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects in healthy participants after receiving a series of flotation tank treatment.
Ø Sample Size (N): 65 participants (14 men and 51 women)
Ø Methods: 65 participants who were all part of a cooperative-health project initiated by their individual companies, were randomized to either a wait-list control group or a flotation tank treatment group where they participated in a 7- week flotation program with a total of 12 flotation sessions.
Ø Data: Questionnaires measuring psychological and physiological variables such as stress and energy, depression and anxiety, optimism, pain, stress, sleep quality, mindfulness, and degree of altered states of consciousness were used.
Ø Measurements: Data were analyzed by two-way mixed MANOVA and repeated measures ANOVA.
Ø Results: Stress, depression, anxiety, and worst pain were significantly decreased whereas optimism and sleep quality significantly increased for the flotation-REST group.
· No significant results for the control group were seen.
· There was also a significant correlation between mindfulness in daily life and degree of altered states of consciousness during the relaxation in the flotation tank.
Ø Conclusions: It was concluded that flotation-REST has beneficial effects on relatively healthy participants.
Kjellgren, A., Westman, J. (2014). Beneficial effects of treatment with sensory isolation in flotation-tank as a preventive health-care intervention - a randomized controlled pilot trial [Abstract]. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 14:417.
o Focus for Study 5- Effects of R.E.S.T. on Emotional, Cognitive, Behavioral, and Psycho- Physiological Function
· Study #5 – Changes in Emotional, Cognitive, Behavioral, and Psycho- Physiological Function as the effects of two related techniques (Chamber and Flotation R.E.S.T.)
Ø Data: Basic research has documented reliable changes in emotional, cognitive, behavioral, and psycho-physiological functioning as the effects of two related techniques that drastically reduce the level of environmental stimulation: chamber and flotation restricted environmental stimulation therapy (REST).
Ø Results/ Findings: Studies applying these findings in medical, psycho- therapeutic, and behavioral health contexts have shown reductions in stress and inappropriate behavior among patients suffering from drug-induced mania, agitation, autism, and Alzheimer's syndrome.
v Studies applying these findings in psycho- therapeutic and behavioral health contexts have shown reduced phobic symptoms significantly lower relapse in habit modification interventions (e.g. Smoking, alcohol intake, and weight loss); improved stress management and the amelioration of tension headaches, insomnia, and other stress-related symptoms; reduction of chronic pain; and better muscle control among cerebral palsy patients and others.
Ø Conclusion: The broad benefits of chamber and flotation-rest, used alone or in combination with other intervention techniques, warrant further investigation and clinical use.
Suedfeld, P., Borrie, R.A. (1999). Health and Therapeutic Applications of Chamber and Flotation Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy (REST) [Abstract]. Psychology and Health. Vol. 14. pp. 545-566.