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Research Library

"The Tonic's Not Always in a Bottle": A Qualitative Study Investigating a Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback Coherence Intervention for Individuals with Gastrointestinal Disorders

    • Published: 2021
    • Lucy Field1, Mark Forshaw1, Helen Poole1, Peter Paine2,3, Gillian Fairclough4, and Candice Walton4
    • Journal of Complexity in Health Sciences, 2021. DOI: Liverpool John Moores University, School of Psychology, Faculty of Health, Liverpool, UK. 2. Department of Gastroenterology, Salford Royal Hospital, Salford, England, UK. 3. Centre for GI Sciences, Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology and Gastroenterology, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK. 4. Department of Clinical Health Psychology, Salford Royal Hospital, Salford, England, UK.
    • Download the complete paper, click here.


Gastrointestinal disorders (GID) affect psychological and physical health and can be impacted by stress and ability to self-regulate emotions. The aim of this study was to gain an indepth understanding of individuals with GID experiences of a Heart Rate Variability biofeedback (HRV-BF) coherence intervention. Six patients, who had already been diagnosed with GID, were interviewed using a semi-structured interview schedule to investigate how engaging in an HRVBF coherence intervention affected their levels of stress and their GID condition. All transcripts were explored using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Analysis of the accounts indicated four superordinate themes: (1) Autonomy, (2) Self-regulation, (3) Acceptance, (4) Mind-Body-Spirit. The field of HRV-BF interventions in the area of gastroenterology is promising. However, it is recommended that further studies involving psycho-physiological interventions, with mixed-method designs and larger samples, are undertaken.