Background: We examined the presence of psychiatric symptoms and personality characteristics in patients with asthma and near fatal asthma (NFA). An NFA attack is defined by the presence of one or more of the following symptoms: respiratory arrest, alteration in consciousness, need for mechanical ventilation, Pa CO2 > 50 mm Hg.
Methods: To assess the relevance of a specific psychiatric profile or the difference in personality characteristics existing in patients that survived an NFA attack and asthmatic patients. The authors interviewed a sample of 17 asthmatic patients who experienced one or more NFA attacks. A control group of 17 control patients with asthma who never experienced NFA attacks was enrolled. After a baseline assessment, the patients underwent an interview concerning their personal and familiar psychiatric history and a psychodiagnostic investigation using Hamilton scales for anxiety and depression, Zung scales for anxiety and depression, and Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory. The study was performed in a 6-month period.
Results: No significant differences in the results of psychodiagnostic tests between NFA patients and the control group were reported. Psychiatric history was similar in the two groups.
Conclusions: Our results suggest that psychiatric symptoms and personality characteristics are not related to the presence of asthma with or without NFA.