An integrative medicine approach to asthma: Who responds?

Benjamin Kligler, Melissa Diane McKee, Esther Sackett, Hanniel Levenson, Jeanne Kenney, Alison Karasz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objectives: The objectives of this study were to develop a better understanding of which patients with chronic illness tend to respond to integrative medicine interventions, by identifying a set of characteristics or qualities that are associated with a positive outcome in a randomized clinical trial of an integrative medicine approach to asthma that incorporated journaling, yoga breathing instruction, and nutritional manipulation and supplementation. Design: The study used qualitative analysis using a grounded-theory approach comparing a group of responders in the parent trial (based on the Asthma Quality of Life Scale) to a group of nonresponders. Results: Twelve (12) responders and 8 nonresponders were interviewed. Responders demonstrated an attitude of "change as challenge;" a view of themselves as "independent" and "leaders;" an ability to accept one's illness while still maintaining a feeling of control over one's choices; a connection to the deeper context or meaning of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) interventions, as opposed to just "previous experience" of CAM; and a sense of determination, commitment, and "willingness to fight" for what one needs from the health care system. Nonresponders were more often uncertain and anxious in their relationship to their asthma, tending to fall back on denial, and lacking a connection to the deeper context or philosophy of CAM interventions. Conclusions: It is possible to identify a set of characteristics that may predict a positive response to an integrative/lifestyle approach to asthma. These characteristics should be examined prospectively using both quantitative and qualitative methods in future integrative medicine clinical trials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)939-945
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine


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