Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Albert D. Farrell


Bronchial asthma is described as a relatively common and heterogeneous disorder. The complexity of the pathophysiological process and the myriad of etiological and precipitating factors are discussed. Such factors include: heredity, allergies, and psychological precipitants. The position is taken that regardless of what caused the initial onset of symptoms, psychological factors may contribute to the intractability and severity of the disorder. The utility of Behavior Therapy Techniques such as: Relaxation Therapy, Biofeedback- Assisted Relaxation Therapy, and Systematic Desensitization; as adjunct strategies for the treatment of bronchial asthma is discussed. It is concluded that while each of these arousal reducing strategies can result in statistically and clinically significant improvement, their usage may be restricted by such variables as: asthma type (intrinsic versus extrinsic); asthma severity (nonsevere versus severe); treatment type (mental versus muscular relaxation); and personality type (only two of nine panic-fear subtypes). The objectives of the current investigation were twofold. First, this study was proposed as an attempt to reconfirm the utility of relaxation therapy as an adjunct strategy for the treatment of bronchial asthma. Second, it was intended to examine specific psychological and illness variables which could potentially be useful in predicting responsiveness/unresponsiveness to relaxation therapy. The variables under consideration in this study were asthma severity and panic-fear personality type. Fifteen asthmatics (primarily of the extrinsic type) of varying degrees of severity and panic-fear personality types were treated in groups with 5 sessions of relaxation therapy. Results on self-report, pulmonary function, and physician ratings partially confirmed the utility of relaxation therapy for treating this population. The results were only suggestive of the importance of severity and panic-fear variables in predicting successful/ unsuccessful response to such a treatment strategy. The results are discussed in terms of: 1) Treatment Implications; 2) The use of Psychological and illness variables as selection criteria; and 3) the necessity of further and larger scale investigations to examine these important issues.


Scanned, with permission from the author, from the original print version, which resides in University Archives.


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