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J Psychosom Res. 1992 Dec;36(8):769-76.

The effects of suggestion on airways of asthmatic subjects breathing room air as a suggested bronchoconstrictor and bronchodilator.

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Rutgers-The State University, New Brunswick.


Thirty-three asthmatic subjects were told they were receiving, alternately, an inhaled bronchoconstrictor and inhaled bronchodilator, although they actually were only breathing room air. No subjects showed suggestion-produced effects on FEV1, although two (of the 19 on whom FEF50 was measured) showed effects of greater than 20% on measures of maximal midexpiratory flow. The incidence of the effect is smaller than reported previously, possibly because some subjects in previous studies inhaled saline, a mild bronchoconstrictor, and reversal of effect was not required for classification as a reactor. Higher percentages of subjects in this study showed decreased MMEF in response to the 'bronchoconstrictor', but this appeared to reflect fatigue rather than suggestion effects. However, the fact that the effect occurred in a relatively non-effort-dependent measure suggests that real changes occurred in bronchial caliber, not just in test effort. Suggestion had a significant effect on perception of bronchial changes, but the correlation between actual and perceived changes was minimal. There was an increase in FVC prior to administration of the 'bronchoconstrictor', possibly reflecting a preparatory response to the expected drug. Correlations among self-report variables suggested the existence of three personality dimensions among our population related to suggestion and asthma: cognitive susceptibility to suggestion of bronchial change; feeling of physical vulnerability; and anxiety. However, there was no significant relationship between airway response to suggested changes and hypnotic susceptibility, as measured by the Harvard Group Scale of Hypnotic Susceptibility.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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