The Efficacy of Binaural Beat Technology in the Reduction of Stress Among Military Nurses

Monday, July 11, 2011

LTC MeLisa Gantt, RN, PhD, CNOR, RNFA
Department of Research Programs, Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, Fort Belvoir, VA

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to explain the concept of binaural beat technology.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to explain how binaural beat technology can be used as a complementary and alternative method to reduce stress.

Purpose: While conventional medicine excels in emergency situations, advances in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) interventions for prevention are falling behind.  Music therapy, for example, has been a proven CAM approach to reducing stress. However, decades of research in Binaural Beat Technology (BBT) and its presumed ability to enhance music therapy is still inconclusive to this day.  The purpose of this proposed pilot study is to assess the efficacy of BBT in the reduction of stress in military nurses.  The aim of this study is to assess whether the stress reducing effect of music with underlining BBT is simply due to the music or the actual presence of binaural beats. Methods: Using a blinded repeated measures crossover design, a convenience sample of approximately 50 military nurses will be randomly place into two groups.  The first group will be exposed to music therapy with BBT (delta/theta brainwave frequency range) for 30 minutes at bedtime four times a week for a two week period, while the second group will be exposed to music therapy alone. There will be a one week period of no exposure then the interventions switched.  The outcome measures that will be observed include: morning blood pressure surge, evening blood pressure decline, salivary cortisol, Expanded Nursing Stress Scale score, State-Trait Anxiety score, Profile of Mood State score, and Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index score. Results: Of the many studies in the past assessing BBT, most were short in duration, used small samples, and had inconsistent results.  This study will provide quantifiable physiologic and psychologic evidence to support or discredit the efficacy of this technology.  Conclusion: If BBT in the delta/theta brainwave frequency range is found to be significantly effective in reducing stress in military nurses, further studies using this same technology in a different brainwave frequency range (e.g., beta) may prove to enhance focus and work productivity.