Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair(s)

William Dobson


William Dobson


Seb Striefel


Curt Canning


Rich Gordin


Keith Checketts


The use of relaxation, desensitization, and relaxation plus desensitization in the treatment of primary dysmenorrhea was investigated in this study. Subjects were 45 university women who experienced either congestive or spasmodic dysmenorrhea. Each subject was individually treated in four, one-hour sessions during the first 20 days of her menstrual cycle. Subjects were divided into three groups: Group 1 obtained four hours of progressive relaxation training, group 2 was asked to self-relax while being administered scenes from a standardized menstrual hierarchy, and group 3 obtained both relaxation training and desensitization. Type of dysmenorrhea was assessed by the Menstrual Symptom Questionnaire (MSQ). Symptom intensity and duration were assessed by the Retrospective Symptom Scale, the Menstrual Semantic Differential, the Menstrual Activities Scale, and the Menstrual Behavior Scale, and were administered pre-test, posttest, and three-month follow-up. Skin temperature during session 4 was obtained to evaluate the level of relaxation.

Differences among treatment groups were analyzed using a one-way analysis of variance. t-tests for correlated samples were used to analyze within group changes form pretreatment to posttreatment.

Results suggest all three treatments to be equally effective in reducing symptoms, negative attitudes, pain mitigating behaviors, and invalid hours. Symptom relief was not associated with skin temperature increases. The possibility of placebo playing a role in these results cannot be ruled out. Finally, the division of primary dysmenorrhea into spasmodic and congestive types by the MSQ is inaccurate, most probably due to the confounding nature of the scoring system.



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