Psychological contributions to chronicity in asthma: patient response styles influencing medical treatment and its outcome

Med Care. 1979 Nov;17(11):1103-18. doi: 10.1097/00005650-197911000-00003.


Research is reviewed relating to two aspects of response styles among asthmatic patients, neither of which is a mere derivative of the patient's medical condition. One aspect, indexed by panic-fear symptomatology, appears to be associated with the level of attention directed at breathing difficulties, ranging from symptom disregard (low panic-fear symptomatology) to symptom vigilance (high panic-fear symptomatology). A second aspect, indexed by a derived personality dimension, appears to be associated with the quality of the patient's reactions to acknowledged breathing difficulties, ranging from extreme independence (low panic-fear personality) to helpless and ineffective dependency (high panic-fear personality). Simply, these aspects of patient response styles refer both to the attention directed toward breathing difficulties and to the quality of the patient's reactions in response to acknowledged breathing difficulties. Their importance derives from 1) their interaction with the severity of asthma to influence medical decisions about the intensity of prescribed medications and length of hospitalization during medical treatment and 2) their effect on long-term medical outcome. Awareness of these two aspects of patient response styles should enable differential approaches to be adopted by physicians seeking to counteract psychological contributions to chronicity in asthma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / psychology*
  • Chronic Disease / psychology
  • Fear
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care*
  • Patients / classification
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Time Factors