Symptom perception in childhood asthma: the role of anxiety and asthma severity

Health Psychol. 2006 May;25(3):389-95. doi: 10.1037/0278-6133.25.3.389.


This study tested the relationship of anxiety and asthma severity to symptom perception. Eighty-six children diagnosed with mild or moderate asthma had symptom perception and pulmonary function measured throughout methacholine challenge (to induce bronchoconstriction). Higher trait anxiety was associated with heightened symptom perception (controlling for pulmonary function) at baseline. Greater asthma severity was associated with blunted symptom perception (controlling for pulmonary function) at the end of methacholine challenge and with a slower rate of increase in symptom perception across methacholine challenge. These results suggest that anxiety plays a role when children's symptoms are mild, whereas medical variables such as severity play a role in perception of changes in asthma symptomatology as bronchoconstriction worsens.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anxiety*
  • Asthma / psychology*
  • Bronchoconstrictor Agents / administration & dosage
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methacholine Chloride / administration & dosage
  • Missouri
  • Severity of Illness Index*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Bronchoconstrictor Agents
  • Methacholine Chloride