Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback

, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 79–91 | Cite as

Asthma Severity, Psychophysiological Indicators of Arousal, and Immune Function in Asthma Patients Undergoing Biofeedback-Assisted Relaxation

  • Cheryl L. Kern-Buell
  • Angele V. McGrady
  • Philip B. Conran
  • Lois A. Nelson


Asthma is characterized by airway hyper-responsiveness, inflammation, and reversible obstruction. Respiratory tract infection, allergies, air pollution, and psychosocial factors impact the severity and frequency of asthma symptoms. Pharmacotherapy and self-care are the major components in the management of asthma, but behavioral interventions also have the potential to affect asthma morbidity. We conducted a small, randomized controlled study, examining the effects of biofeedback-assisted relaxation in 16 nonsmokers with nonsteroid-dependent mild asthma. Data were collected on asthma symptoms, pulmonary function, indicators of arousal, and cellular immune factors. The trained group evidenced a decrease in forehead muscle tension in comparison to the controls, but no changes in peripheral skin temperature. Decreases in asthma severity and bronchodilator medication usage for the experimental group were observed. Pulmonary function testing revealed a significant difference between groups in FEV1/FVC at posttest, with the E group having a higher ratio than the controls. The cellular immune data showed no significant group differences in total white blood cell or lymphocyte counts, but decreases over time were observed. Significant differences were observed in the numbers of neutrophils and basophils in the trained group compared to controls, which supports the concept of decreased inflammation. Results of delayed-type hypersensitivity skin testing suggested enhanced function, but they were not conclusive. These findings, though limited by size of population, suggest a positive effect of biofeedback-assisted relaxation in young, nonsteroid-dependent asthmatics. The mechanisms underlying linkages between psychological, behavioral, and immune responses in asthma require further study.

asthma immune system biofeedback 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cheryl L. Kern-Buell
    • 1
  • Angele V. McGrady
    • 2
  • Philip B. Conran
    • 1
  • Lois A. Nelson
    • 1
  1. 1.Medical College of OhioToledo
  2. 2.Medical College of Ohio, Department of PsychiatryRichard D. Ruppert Health CenterToledo

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