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EFT and Pain Research

The Effect of a Brief EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) Self-Intervention on Anxiety, Depression, Pain and Cravings in Healthcare Workers

 Dawson Church, PhD1 and Audrey J. Brooks, PhD2
[1] Research Chair, Epigenetic Medicine Institute (EMI).
2Department of Psychology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721               


This study examined whether self-intervention with Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), a brief exposure therapy that combines a cognitive and a somatic element, had an effect on healthcare workers’ psychological symptoms such as anxiety and depression, as well as self-rated pain and craving. Participants were 216 attendees at 5 professional conferences, and included physicians, psychologists, chiropractors, nurses, and alternative medicine practitioners. Psychological distress was assessed before and after 2 hours of self-applied EFT in a within-subjects design. Physical pain, the intensity of traumatic memories, and cravings were self-reported on a 10-point scale. A 90-day follow-up assessment of symptoms was completed by 53% of the sample, and 61% reported using EFT subsequent to the workshop. At posttest statistically significant improvements were found on all scales, as well as pain (p<.001), emotional distress (p<.001), and cravings (p<.001). Gains were maintained at follow-up (p<.001) for the two global scales and most of the SA-45 subscales. On the two general scales on the SA-45, symptom severity dropped 45% at posttest, maintaining a 25% drop at follow-up. Similarly, symptom breadth dropped 40% at posttest, maintaining a 21% improvement at follow-up. Greater subsequent EFT use correlated with a greater decrease in symptom severity at follow-up (p<.034, r=.199), but not in breadth of symptoms (p<.117, r=.148). EFT provided an immediate effect on psychological distress, pain, and cravings that was replicated across multiple conferences and healthcare provider samples.