Smith, H.E., Jones, C.J., Theadom, A., Horne, R., Bowskill, R., Hankins, M. and Frew, A.J.
Writing about emotional experiences reduces beta-agonist use in patients with asthma-3-month follow up of a randomised controlled trial
Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 123, (2), . (doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2008.12.280).
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Rationale: as stress is known to exacerbate asthma symptoms, we examined whether written emotional disclosure (writing about traumatic experiences) could improve lung function in adults with asthma. Writing may facilitate cognitive and emotional processing of stressful events and help to reduce the physiological stress associated with inhibition of emotions.
Methods: 138 adults aged between 18 and 45 with a diagnosis of asthma, requiring regular inhaled corticosteroids and able to read and understand English were invited to participate in this double blind randomised controlled trial. Participants were randomly allocated to receive either the written emotional disclosure or non-emotional writing instructions. Participants were asked to write for 20 minutes over 3 consecutive days. Spirometry readings and questionnaires measuring quality of life, asthma symptoms, subjective asthma control and medication use were conducted at baseline, 1 and 3-month follow up.
Results: baseline analysis showed no significant differences between the two conditions. Controlling for baseline scores, no significant findings for lung function, quality of life or asthma symptoms were found. At 3-month follow up, participants in the intervention condition reported significantly better subjective control of their asthma (as defined by the Asthma Control Test): OR = 3.01, 95%CL (1.30, 6.94) and reported significantly better objective control of their asthma (defined as using their ?-agonist less than once a day): OR = 2.96, 95%CL (1.38, 6.33).
Conclusions: written emotional disclosure may be useful in the management of asthma, improving perceived control of asthma in addition to reducing patients' use of their reliever medication
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