Association of Depressive Symptoms and Disease Activity in Children With Asthma: Methodological and Clinical Implications

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Abstract

Objective:

This study was designed to assess the prevalence of depressive symptoms in children with asthma and the association between depression and asthma activity.

Method:

Children ages 7 to 17 (n = 129) were recruited from a hospital emergency department after presenting for asthma symptoms. The majority of subjects were from disadvantaged, inner city families. Subjects' asthma disease activity was assessed using the revised National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute guidelines, and subjects' emotional status was assessed by a combination of self-, parent-, and clinician-reported measures. Parental emotional status was assessed by self-report.

Results:

Depressive symptoms within the clinical range were reported in 26% of subjects and 43% of mothers, although symptom severity varied across scales. Self-reported depressive symptoms were more strongly correlated with asthma activity (r = 0.25) than clinician-reported (r = 0.14) or parent-reported symptoms (r = 0.12/0.18). Depressive symptoms in parents were correlated with child's depression scores but not with their asthma activity.

Conclusions:

Depressive symptoms were common and associated with asthma activity in this inner city population of asthmatic children. Self-reported depressive symptoms were more strongly associated with child's asthma activity than either parental depression or parental/clinician ratings of the child's depression.

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