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Characterization of Placebo Responses in Stable Asthma

This study has been completed.
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
Michael Wechsler, MD, Brigham and Women's Hospital Identifier:
First received: June 10, 2010
Last updated: March 29, 2017
Last verified: March 2017

The investigators hypothesize that different placebos will have different effects on subjective and objective asthma outcomes compared with actual therapy and natural history. .

Subjects with asthma are randomly treated with placebo inhaler, placebo acupuncture, albuterol inhaler, or "no treatment" in random order, on three different occasions each. At each of the 12 visits, spirometry is performed repeatedly over 2 hours. Maximum FEV1 achieved and an 11-point, self-reported scale of improvement are examined.

Condition Intervention
Asthma Placebo Effects
Drug: albuterol
Drug: placebo inhaler
Procedure: placebo acupuncture

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Crossover Assignment
Masking: Participant, Care Provider, Investigator, Outcomes Assessor
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: Characterization of Placebo Responses in Stable Asthma

Resource links provided by NLM:

Further study details as provided by Brigham and Women's Hospital:

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • Change in FEV1 [ Time Frame: FEV1 was assessed every 20 minutes for 2 hours at each visit. There were 4 visits in each block each visit separated by 3-7 days. There were three blocks each block separated by 3-7 days. ]
    The baseline FEV1 (before treatment) was subtracted from the maximum FEV1 recorded during the 2 h period following treatment. This difference value was then converted into percent improvement by dividing by baseline FEV1 and multiplying by 100. Each treatment was given 3 times to each patient, so we averaged the 3 values to yield the mean percent change in FEV1 for each condition.

Secondary Outcome Measures:
  • Asthma Symptoms [ Time Frame: Assesed over 2 hours during each visit. There were 4 visits in each block each visit separated by 3-7 days. There were three blocks each block separated by 3-7 days. ]
    Subjective change in asthma symptoms on a visual-analogue scale with scores ranging from 0 (no positive change) to 10 (complete positive change). These subjective responses were then converted to percent change during the 2 hours by multiplying each score by 10. Each of these individual subject scores were then averaged to produce an average percent change in symptoms.

Enrollment: 39
Study Start Date: January 2005
Study Completion Date: January 2009
Primary Completion Date: January 2009 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Arms Assigned Interventions
Active Comparator: albuterol inhaler
Drug: albuterol
Placebo Comparator: placebo inhaler
Drug: placebo inhaler
Placebo Comparator: placebo acupuncture
Procedure: placebo acupuncture


Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years to 80 Years   (Adult, Senior)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No

Inclusion Criteria:

  • uncontrolled asthma

Exclusion Criteria:

  • no bronchodilator response
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Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT01143688

United States, Massachusetts
Brigham & women's Hospital
Boston, Massachusetts, United States, 02115
Sponsors and Collaborators
Brigham and Women's Hospital
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)
Principal Investigator: Michael Wechsler, MD Brigham and Women's Hospital
  More Information

Responsible Party: Michael Wechsler, MD, Brigham and Women's Hospital Identifier: NCT01143688     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: 2005P-002045
R21AT002793-01 ( US NIH Grant/Contract Award Number )
K24AT004095 ( US NIH Grant/Contract Award Number )
Study First Received: June 10, 2010
Results First Received: December 2, 2016
Last Updated: March 29, 2017

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Bronchial Diseases
Respiratory Tract Diseases
Lung Diseases, Obstructive
Lung Diseases
Respiratory Hypersensitivity
Hypersensitivity, Immediate
Immune System Diseases
Bronchodilator Agents
Autonomic Agents
Peripheral Nervous System Agents
Physiological Effects of Drugs
Anti-Asthmatic Agents
Respiratory System Agents
Tocolytic Agents
Reproductive Control Agents
Adrenergic beta-2 Receptor Agonists
Adrenergic beta-Agonists
Adrenergic Agonists
Adrenergic Agents
Neurotransmitter Agents
Molecular Mechanisms of Pharmacological Action processed this record on May 25, 2017