Posttraumatic Stress in Adolescents With Asthma and Their Parents

J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2006 Jan;45(1):78-86. doi: 10.1097/01.chi.0000186400.67346.02.


Objective: To assess posttraumatic stress (PTS) symptoms in adolescents with and without asthma and their parents and the relationship between PTS symptoms and asthma morbidity.

Method: Three groups of adolescents (12-18 years) participated: adolescents who had experienced a life-threatening asthma episode (n=49), asthma controls (n=71), and healthy controls (n=80). Adolescents completed the UCLA PTSD Reaction Index, Multidimensional Anxiety Scale for Children, and Reynolds Depression Inventory. Parents completed the Impact of Events Scale-Revised, Brief Symptom Inventory, and Asthma Functional Morbidity Scale.

Results: Twenty percent of adolescents with life-threatening asthma met criteria for PTSD compared with 11% of the asthma controls and 8% of the normal controls. Twenty-nine percent of parents of adolescents with life-threatening asthma met criteria for PTSD compared with 14% of parents of asthma controls and 2% of normal controls. Adolescent PTS symptoms accounted for 5% of the variance in functional asthma morbidity even after controlling for disease severity and other anxiety and depressive symptoms (beta=.26).

Conclusions: Adolescents with asthma and their parents, particularly those who have experienced a life-threatening event, have high levels of PTS symptoms that are linked to asthma morbidity. Interventions to improve asthma outcomes should include assessment and treatment of trauma and PTS symptoms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Asthma / diagnosis*
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Asthma / psychology
  • Child
  • Cost of Illness
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires