Objective: To assess the effectiveness of a non-pharmacological intervention in patients with asthma on conventional therapy including inhaled corticosteroid.
Design: A randomised controlled trial of the Buteyko technique in a group of adults with asthma. The control group was trained by a physiotherapist in breathing and relaxation techniques.
Setting: A single centre associated with a University-based asthma programme.
Main outcome measure: Asthma control, defined by a composite score based on the Canadian asthma consensus report 6 months after completion of the intervention.
Results: Both groups showed substantial and similar improvement and a high proportion with asthma control 6 months after completion of the intervention. In the Buteyko group the proportion with asthma control increased from 40% to 79% and in the control group from 44% to 72%. In addition the Buteyko group had significantly reduced their inhaled corticosteroid therapy compared with the control group (p=0.02). None of the other differences between the groups at 6 months were significant.
Conclusions: Six months after completion of the interventions, a large majority of subjects in each group displayed control of their asthma with the additional benefit of reduction in inhaled corticosteroid use in the Buteyko group. The Buteyko technique, an established and widely recognised intervention, or an intensive programme delivered by a chest physiotherapist appear to provide additional benefit for adult patients with asthma who are being treated with inhaled corticosteroid.