Biofeedback depends on the motivation and active participation of an individual. Thus, it may not be suitable for individuals with low motivation who are not willing to take a highly active role in treatment, such as those suffering from depression. Also, since biofeedback focuses on initiating behavioral changes, individuals inclined to examine their past to alleviate problems and symptoms may benefit more from other treatment types, such as psychotherapy. Individuals with cognitive impairment may be unable to remain engaged in the treatment, depending on their level of functioning. Also, individuals with a pacemaker or other implanted electrical devices should inform their health care professional before entering biofeedback training, as certain types of biofeedback sensors may interfere with the devices. Patients with specific pain symptoms in which the cause is unknown should have a thorough medical examination to rule out any serious underlying disease before starting biofeedback training. Biofeedback can be used in combination with conventional therapies; however, while it can be used in combination with conventional medical treatment for illnesses such as cancer and diabetes, it should not replace those treatments.
Research on the success of biofeedback in treating certain conditions is inconclusive or needs to be validated. Some research studies use a small number of participants, which makes it difficult to generalize the results to a larger population. Also, many conditions have different subtypes with a variety of psychological, social, and physical causes. This fact, combined with research design concerns, makes it difficult to compare research studies. For example, while most studies have reported positive outcomes in the treatment of alcohol abuse and dependence, problems with methods and statistical analyses have called study results into question. Also, its effectiveness in treating opiate abuse or dependence has not been consistently shown, as with its use in treating menopausal hot flashes, and there are limitations in studies relating to its use in cancer treatment. Continued research is needed to further evaluate and improve different biofeedback techniques for various conditions.
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