Journal of Psychosomatic Research vol:57 issue:3 pages:249-55
OBJECTIVE: To investigate the effect of suggestion on subjective and objective asthma symptoms as a function of negative affectivity of the patients. METHODS: Asthmatics (n=32) took puffs from three separate placebo inhalers, being described as an inert (practice) substance, a bronchoconstrictor, and a bronchodilator. Negative affectivity, social desirability, probability of medication-intake, intensity of asthma symptoms and total respiratory resistance were measured at onset. The latter three measures were repeated after each trial. Heart rate, end tidal PCO(2), and breathing behaviour were measured during each trial. RESULTS: Asthmatics with high negative affectivity had overall more intense asthma symptoms. They also reported more airway obstruction after suggested bronchoconstriction and less after suggested bronchodilation, whereas persons with low negative affectivity did not show such variation. These effects were unrelated to social desirability. Respiratory symptoms correlated with the odds of medication intake. Neither negative affectivity nor suggestion influenced lung function and only breathing parameters under voluntary control changed as a function of suggestion. CONCLUSION: Self-reported symptoms of asthmatics with high negative affectivity are more influenced by suggestion than those of patients with low negative affectivity.