Psychology ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 7-2021


Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is a useful tool for clinical practice and substance use research, as it may provide insight into liability for relapse or development of addiction, as well as provide indicators of recovery outcomes and response to treatment. Psychotherapy would benefit from an integrated understanding of physiological regulation systems such as what are measured by HRV, as HRV is linked to psychopathology and substance use disorders.

HRV was measured in non-treatment-seeking adult drinkers as they underwent a motivational interviewing (MI) session. Subjects’ HRV from the interview was then regressed on therapist MI-consistent behaviors. The subjects’ drinking at both baseline and follow-up was then regressed on their HRV from the MI interview.

HRV was significantly associated with baseline drinking; lower HRV was associated with higher scores on the Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test (AUDIT), meaning diminished flexibility in physiological regulation systems was associated with more severe drinking behavior.

Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name


First Committee Member (Chair)

Claudia Tesche

Second Committee Member

Theresa Moyers

Third Committee Member

Jon Houck




Heart rate variability, alcohol use, substance use, psychotherapy, motivational interviewing

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Included in

Psychology Commons