Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. R. Wayne Fuqua

Second Advisor

Dr. Malcolm Robertson

Third Advisor

Dr. Chris Koronakos

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Helen Pratt


This experiment studied the acute and cumulative effects of relaxation exercises on young persons (mean age 11.4 years) with moderate asthma. In order to assess the acute effects of relaxation, treatment group subjects were instructed to perform relaxation exercises immediately before and during methacholine inhalation challenge procedures that produced a 20% reduction in forced expiratory volume in one-second (FEXA,). The control group subjects were not taught the relaxation exercises, but still underwent the methacholine challenges. In order to assess the cumulative effects of the treatment group subjects practicing relaxation exercises twice daily at home for 10-weeks, they were instructed to record peak expiratory flow (PEF) rates, asthma symptoms (wheeze, cough, activity restrictions, and nighttime asthma), and asthma medication use; the control group subjects were only instructed to record these three measures. None of the observed differences (with respect to methacholine sensitivity, daily airflow variability, asthma symptomatology, and asthma medication usage) between the treatment and control groups achieved statistical significance.

These results suggest that relaxation exercise training and practice, by young persons with moderate asthma, is of questionable clinical utility as a generally prescribed prophylactic treatment adjunct to standard asthma therapy. Intra-subject comparisons, however, suggest that there may be a subgroup of young persons with asthma for whom relaxation exercises are beneficial.


Fifth Advisor: Dr. Douglas Homnick

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access