Emotionally triggered asthma as a predictor of airway response to suggestion



Twenty-nine male and female adults with asthma were tested to determine the relationship between perceived response to emotional triggers of asthma and broncho-constrictive suggestion. Subjects were told that they were inhaling a bronchoconstricting agent in four increasingly potent concentrations, when in fact the solution the subjects inhaled was nebulized isotonic saline. Ten subjects responded to suggestion with a greater than 20% increase in specific airway resistance, but this response could not be predicted by the report of perceived emotional triggers of asthma. The finding that perception of asthmatic response to emotional arousal does not predict airway response to bronchoconstrictive suggestion may mean that suggestion is an invalid proxy variable for studying the role of psychological factors in provocation of asthma.