Relaxation and guided imagery: An intervention for children with asthma

Date of Completion

January 2001


Education, Guidance and Counseling|Education, Educational Psychology|Psychology, Clinical




Asthma, a disease of the respiratory system, is the most common chronic medical condition among children. School-aged children with asthma evidence increased absenteeism, decreased school performance, restriction of various activities, poor peer relationships, and emotional and behavioral difficulties. Research has demonstrated that asthma can be triggered and exacerbated by emotions and stress, and therefore, it has been treated with psychological interventions. Unfortunately, the majority of these interventions are either not easily implemented within the school setting or have not found consistent, significant changes in lung function. Relaxation and guided imagery (RGI), an intervention based upon the theoretical position that the mind and body interact in determining health outcomes, has been shown to be effective in improving mental and physical health outcomes with a myriad of medical conditions, yet it has not been adequately studied with childhood asthma. This investigation analyzed the effect of RGI on lung function (forced expiratory volume in 1 second [FRV1] and forced expiratory flow 25–75 [FEF 25–75] and anxiety by employing a multiple baseline design across 4 middle school students with asthma. The RGI intervention took place for a 20-minute period, an average of four times per week, over a 4-week period. With the introduction of the intervention, it was found that FEV1, improved (resulting in negative effect sizes) and anxiety substantially decreased in all students. FEF25–75 improved in 3 of the 4 participants. The effect sizes for the 4 participants ranged from −0.98 to −1.88 for FEV1, from 0.20 to −1.93 for FEF25–75, and from 2.19 to 4.06 for anxiety. ^