Use of a paper disposable cup as a spacer is effective for the first-aid management of asthma

Respir Med. 2003 Jan;97(1):86-9. doi: 10.1053/rmed.2002.1407.


Objective: There are many settings in which a spacer device is not available for the administration of bronchodilator. Therefore, we tested whether a paper disposable cup is as effective as a commercially produced spacer to administer bronchodilator.

Methodology: Randomised controlled trial. 50 subjects aged 16-50 years who had wheeze and a greater than 10% decrease in FEV1 after histamine inhalation test (HIT). Subjects were randomised to either the 150 ml paper disposable cup group (CUP) or the commercially produced spacer group (SPACER). Twenty minutes after 400 microg salbutamol was administered FEV1 was measured. The recovery index measured post-bronchodilator FEV1 as a percentage of baseline FEV1. Also, analysis of covariance tested whether recovery of FEV1 was related to the magnitude of the fall following the HIT.

Results: There were no statistically significant differences between CUP and SPACER groups in any characteristics. There was no difference for the recovery index (t48=1.14, P=0.26). Regression analyses showed that the relation between the magnitude of the fall in FEV1 during the HIT and the percent recovery was not different between the CUP and SPACER groups (t=-1.2, P<0.23).

Conclusions: A paper disposable cup was effective for the reversal of mild to moderate bronchoconstriction. Therefore, a paper disposable cup can be used for the first-aid management of asthma when there is concern about cross-infection and a commercially produced spacer is not available.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Asthma / drug therapy*
  • Bronchodilator Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Disposable Equipment
  • Emergencies
  • Female
  • First Aid / instrumentation*
  • Forced Expiratory Volume / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nebulizers and Vaporizers


  • Bronchodilator Agents