Results of the AGES study are presented
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität presents study results - AOK Bayern was cooperation partner - sponsored by the Free State of Bavaria
"The best thing is that it doesn't even get that far," say speech therapist Gudrun Mehring and orthopaedic surgeon Dr Thomas Laser. These are the dreaded burn-out symptoms that are becoming more and more widespread in modern society - and are thus causing ever greater damage.
So not letting it get this far was the declared goal in the development of a stress prevention programme. The project was supported by the Free State of Bavaria with around 100,000 euros for good reason, as Melanie Huml, State Minister for Health and Care, emphasised at the project presentation in the Munich Press Club. "With the concept AGES-Active against exhaustion and stress', the rural spa is tackling an important topic together with LMU, AOK Bavaria, Rottal Terme and local experts. The current AOK Missing Times Report 2017 for Germany clearly proves this: the number of days absent due to mental illness has risen constantly over the last 10 years, increasing by 79.3 percent. Mental illness also led to long downtimes. At 25.7 days per case, they lasted more than twice as long as the average of 11.7 days per case," said the Minister.
The conditions were good in the picturesquely situated Bad Birnbach, sandwiched between the green Rottauen and the gentle hills of the Rottal. Rottal Terme, deliberately written in Italian without an "h", not only has the most modern therapy pool in Europe, but also the longest thermal stream on the continent and a saltwater lagoon on which you can literally float away from everyday life, among many other attractions. Therapy and relaxation have always been very important in the Lower Bavarian health resort and have always gone hand in hand. And yet they wanted more, namely a new concept that would meet the demands of modern society. "We want to achieve a unique selling proposition here", Deputy Chairman of the Supervisory Board Mayor Dagmar Feicht and Viktor Gröll, head of the spa administration, were agreed.
The Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) in Munich was selected to carry out the study and AOK Bayern supported the project as a cooperation partner. "AGES - Active against exhaustion and stress" was founded. Together with the LMU and local experts, a special prevention programme for stress reduction was developed, which does not only pursues classical applications. Chrono-biological approaches as well as the introduction of new psycho-educative elements such as logotherapy according to the famous neurologist and psychologist Prof. Viktor Frankl are also important. He once described the logotherapy he developed as a "doctrine of sense against meaninglessness". Orthopaedic approaches were also pursued with regard to stress-related effects on the muscles. In addition, elements of classical spa medicine were of course used. Water exercises in the original Bad Birnbach medicinal water for example, natural fango and massages. The project included various techniques from the field of relaxation therapy, including QiGong. There was movement in the form of Nordic walking, golf and archery. A refresher course after six months was completely new. The participants then met again for four days in the health resort to check whether what they had learned had actually been applied in daily life. Obviously with success, as it turned out. There were three study groups in total. One "home group", which served as a control group, and two, which completed different programmes in Bad Birnbach. The subjective stress and strain experience of the test persons was measured with scientifically recognised survey instruments, for example the "Perceived Stress Questionnaire (PSQ)". It was found that the control group at home showed hardly any changes on the scale of the instrument, ranging from 0 to 100, during the observation period of one year. In contrast, the group with the classical applications of spa medicine had already improved by almost a constant 16 points and the group that also received the so-called "psycho-educative sessions" in the form of speech therapy and orthopaedic knowledge had increased by almost 30 points at the end of the studies - one year after the treatment in Bad Birnbach. "In summary, the results of this study show that both groups of test persons that stayed in Bad Birnbach benefited from participating in a prevention programme. Continued positive effects can be seen in a number of parameters studied, with changes that were still significantly different from the baseline values at the end of the 12-month follow-up phase," as Prof. Dr. Angela Schuh and Dr. Sandra Kus from the LMU noted. And further: "As expected, the improved conditions stagnate or worsen again during the course of the study. However, it turned out that the refresher course was essential to ensure the sustainability of positive effects, especially for the group with speech therapy and knowledge transfer on stress and orthopaedic problems, said Dr. Sandra Kus. Positive developments were apparent in all important parameters such as stress experience, chronic stress, well-being, subjective assessment of the state of health and sleep quality.
AOK Bayern, which acted as project partner, also drew a positive conclusion: "The results presented by the Ludwig Maximilian University are clear: With the newly developed prevention programme'Active against exhaustion and stress', stress can be reduced in a sustainable manner. This serves both to prevent illnesses and increase quality of life", says director Daniel Gansmeier of the AOK Rottal-Inn.