Objective: To determine the prevalence of emotional and behavioral disorders in adolescents with asthma and to compare it with that of adolescents without asthma.
Methods: A transversal study using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, administered to adolescents with or without asthma, ranging from 14 to 16 years of age and randomly selected from schools in the city of Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
Results: The prevalence of emotional and behavioral disorders in adolescents with and without asthma was 20.4% (95% CI: 14.5-27.8%) and 9.0% (95% CI: 6.1-12.8%), respectively. Among adolescents with asthma, 56.6% (95% CI: 48.3-64.5%) presented normal scores, and 23.0% (95% CI 16.8-30.7%) presented borderline scores. Among adolescents without asthma, 75.0% (95% CI: 69.7-79.6%) presented normal scores, and 16.0% (95% CI: 12.2-20.7%) presented borderline scores. The median total score on the questionnaire was 14 and 12 among subjects with and without asthma, respectively (p < 0.01). In the final logistic regression model, adjusted for socioeconomic variables, the association between emotional/behavioral disorders and the following variables remained significant: being female (OR = 1.98; 95% CI: 1.10-3.56; p = 0.02) and having asthma (OR = 2.66; 95% CI: 1.52-4.64; p = 0.001).
Conclusions: The prevalence of emotional and behavioral disorders is higher in adolescents with asthma than in those without asthma, underscoring the need for a holistic, interdisciplinary approach.