Asthma and panic in young adults: a 20-year prospective community study

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2005 Jun 1;171(11):1224-30. doi: 10.1164/rccm.200412-1669OC. Epub 2005 Mar 11.


Rationale: Psychologic factors are increasingly recognized to influence the onset and course of asthma. Previous cross-sectional community-based studies have provided evidence for a relatively specific association between asthma and panic.

Objectives: To examine concurrent and longitudinal associations between asthma and panic in young adults.

Measurements and main results: Prospective community-based cohort study of young adults (n = 591) followed between ages 19 and 40. Information was derived from six subsequent semistructured diagnostic interviews conducted by professionals. Cross-sectionally (over the whole study period), asthma was more strongly associated with panic disorder (odds ratio [OR] = 4.0; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.7, 9.3) than with any panic, which included panic disorder and panic attacks (OR = 2.1; 95% CI, 1.1, 4.5). Longitudinally, after adjusting for potentially confounding variables, active asthma predicted subsequent panic disorder (OR = 4.5; 95% CI, 1.1, 20.1), and the presence of panic disorder predicted subsequent asthma activity (OR = 6.3; 95% CI, 2.8, 14.0). Asthma predicted any panic (OR = 2.7; 95% CI, 1.1, 7.1), whereas any panic did not predict subsequent asthma activity. Associations were stronger in smokers than in nonsmokers, and stronger in women than in men. Smoking, early-childhood anxiety, and a family history of allergy were important confounders of the asthma-panic association.

Conclusions: This is the first long-term follow-up study on asthma and panic. It showed dose-response-type relationships between panic and asthma, and bidirectional longitudinal associations between the two conditions. It provided evidence for familial factors and smoking as possible shared etiologic explanations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Asthma / psychology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Odds Ratio
  • Panic
  • Panic Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Switzerland / epidemiology