Boath, E.H., Stewart, A., & Carryer, A. (2013). Tapping for success: A pilot study to explore if Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) can reduce anxiety and enhance academic performance in university students. Innovative Practice in Higher Education, 1(3), 1-13.
Read more at Innovative Practice in Higher Education
Summary by Adam Boughey, Research Associate and Trainee Health Psychologist, Staffordshire University, UK
To determine whether EFT can reduce presentation anxiety.
Pre- post-test (before and after) study.
A convenience sample of 46 female (Mage = 37.5 years; range = 25-55 years) third-year undergraduate complementary therapy students participated.
Subjective Units of Distress Scale (SUDS).
Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS).
Objective differences in assignment grades between participating and non-participating students (over 8 weeks).
Qualitative data: thematic analysis.
15 min assignment lecture detailing assessed presentation for research methods, known to generate anxiety amongst students.
Pre-intervention completion of SUDS and HADS.
Intervention: 15 min lecture on EFT: theory, tapping points, and practical focusing on fear of public speaking – by Tony Stewart.
Post-intervention completion of SUDS and HADS.
Students instructed to continue using EFT over subsequent 8 weeks up to assessed presentation, with an interview after presentation (qualitative).
SUDS: within-groups t-test.
HADS: within-groups t-test (Wilcoxon Signed Ranks used to analyse anxiety and depression subscales).
Differences in grades between participating and non-participating students over 8 weeks prior to assignment: Mann-Whitney U test.
Qualitative: thematic analysis.
Significant (p < 0.001) reduction in subjective distress pre- post-intervention. HADS Significant (p < 0.003) reduction in total anxiety and depression pre- post-intervention. Significant (p < 0.001) reduction in anxiety pre- post-intervention. Non-significant (p = 0.67) effect of intervention on pre- post-intervention depression.
Objective Differences In Grades
19 of 46 students used EFT for anxiety during 8 weeks up to assignment.
Significant (p < 0.01) increase in grade points (M = 10.63, SD = 2.872, range 4-14) for students using EFT compared with lower grade points for students not using EFT during 8 weeks prior to assessment (M = 7.70, SD = 2.771, range = 4-13).
EFT was considered effective in reducing anxiety.
Other forms of complementary therapies for reducing anxiety mentioned.
Reasons for not using EFT were discussed.
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), also known as tapping, is an emerging psychological intervention that has been used to treat a variety of conditions, including exam stress and public speaking anxiety.
Participants were a convenience sample of 52 3rd year Foundation Degree level students undertaking a Research Methods Module. The module included an assessed presentation, which was known to generate anxiety among students. The students were given a 15-minute assignment workshop. They then received a 15-minute lecture introducing EFT and were guided though one round of EFT focusing on their anxiety of public speaking. The students were assessed using the Subjective Units of Distress (SUDs) and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) pre and post EFT. The students were instructed that they could continue to use EFT at any time to reduce their anxiety regarding their assessed presentation. Immediately following their presentation, the students were invited to take part in a brief face-to-face interview to identify those who used EFT to explore their use of and feelings about EFT and to identify those who had chosen not to use EFT and explore their reasons for not choosing to use it.
Forty-six of the total sample of 52 students (88%) participated in the research. There was a significant reduction in SUDS (p < 0.001), HAD (p = 0.003) and HAD Anxiety Subscale (p < 0.001). There was no difference in the HAD Depression Subscale (p = 0.67). The qualitative data were analysed using a framework approach which revealed the following three themes: helpfulness of EFT in reducing anxiety and staying calm and focused; using other complementary therapy skills; and their reasons for not using EFT.