Introduction: Youth as young as 11 are given responsibility to manage their asthma. Yet, little is known regarding early adolescents' asthma self-management behaviors. This study characterizes urban early adolescents' asthma self-management behaviors and perceived responsibility to manage asthma, exploring demographic differences and examining the relationship between asthma responsibility and disease management.
Methods: About 317 Hispanic and African American/Black early adolescents (mean age = 12.71) with persistent, uncontrolled asthma reported prevention and symptom management steps, and responsibility for asthma care. We used Poisson, cumulative logistic, logistic, and linear mixed-effects regression models to assess the relationships among demographic predictors, prevention and management behaviors, and responsibility for asthma care.
Results: Fifty percent took 7-9 prevention steps; few saw physicians when asymptomatic or took daily medication. When symptomatic, 92% used medication to treat symptoms and 56% sought medical attention. Controlling for asthma responsibility, fewer older youth reported observing how they feel when asthma is likely to start, observing symptom changes, or asking for help. More boys reported taking medication daily or upon trigger exposure. Controlling for age, gender, and race/ethnicity, those reporting more asthma responsibility were less likely to report taking management steps, seeking preventive care, asking for help, or going to a doctor/hospital for their asthma.
Conclusions: Early adolescents' asthma self-management is suboptimal. With increasing age, they are less observant regarding their asthma and less likely to seek help. Although they perceive themselves to have greater responsibility for managing their asthma, early adolescents do less to care for their asthma, suggesting they are being given responsibility for asthma care prematurely.