Honors Capstone Project
Date of Submission
Dr. Barbara Fiese
Dr. Bruce Carter
Arts and Science
Capstone Prize Winner
Won Capstone Funding
Clinical Psychology | Health Psychology | Psychology
Asthma is the most common chronic childhood disease, characterized by attacks that make a child or adult feel like they are unable to breathe (Shohat, Graif, & Garty, 2005). Currently, nearly 6.3 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 are afflicted with asthma (EPA, 2006)
Children with asthma are also more prone to developing other disorders especially, anxiety. The prevalence of child patients with asthma suffering from anxiety disorders is found to be as high as 4.7% (Katon, Richardson, Lozano & McCauley, 2004). The current study aims to examine the risk factors that contribute to the comorbidity of asthma and anxiety in pediatric patients.
Several risk factors can lend themselves to this comorbidity and it is hypothesized that there are four prevalent ones. The risk factors were drawn from the biological, environmental, and familial domains. They include asthma severity levels, socioeconomic status, amount of stress in the family and parent mental health.
There were five main measures used in the study. The Functional Severity Scale determined asthma severity. Socioeconomic status was determined by using the Hollingshead Index. Parent mental health status was assessed through the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI) and family stress levels through the Family Inventory of Life Events (FILE). The primary caregiver completed all four measures during their lab visit.
Participants ranged between 8-12 years of age along with their primary caregivers. Ninety-three percent of the primary caregivers were mothers. They were drawn from a sample pool from the Family Life and Asthma Project, an on-going study based inSyracuse,New York. Seventy-two families were selected based on which children completed the Multidimensional Anxiety Scale for Children (MASC), a measure of childhood anxiety.
Overall, it was found that family stress levels, socioeconomic status, and the severity of the child’s asthma all had significant effects on child anxiety levels. The only factor that did not have a significant effect was the level of parent depression or anxiety.
When the risk factors were looked at as one combined risk factor, levels of anxiety rose with the presence of zero, one, or two risk factors. However, when children had three, four, or five risk factors in their lives, anxiety increased and decreased inconsistently.
Seigel, Stephanie P., "Risk Factors and Their Effects on the Comorbidity of Asthma and Anxiety Disorders in School Aged Children" (2006). Syracuse University Honors Program Capstone Projects. 644.
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