Perceptions and attitudes of adolescents with asthma

Robyn Cohen, Karen Franco, Ferrell Motlow, Marina Reznik, Philip O. Ozuah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Background. Psychosocial factors can limit one's ability to effectively manage asthma. This can result in asthma morbidity that limits quality of life. While self-perceptions of asthmatic children and parents have been studied, less is known about self-perceptions of inner-city adolescents with asthma. Objective. To examine perceptions and attitudes to treatment among inner-city adolescents with asthma. Design/Methods. We conducted a multistaged stratified sample survey at a high school located in the Bronx, NY. First, an asthma-screening survey was administered to 3800 registered students. Then, we identified a subset of 200 children with the most positive screening results for asthma. Next, a 32-item self-completion questionnaire was administered to this cohort. Students were surveyed regarding severity of asthma, perceptions and attitudes, and demographic information. Differences in proportions were tested by Chi-square analyses. Pearson rank-order correlation and multiple logistic regression were used to assess the relationship between perceptions and attitudes to self-treatment. Results. A total of 160 (80%) students participated. Mean age was 15.7 years. Of the respondents, 63% were female. 68% were Hispanic, 26% were African American. 33% had weekly symptoms, and 14% had daily symptoms. Additionally, 41% did not know the name of their asthma medicine. Only 38% reported bringing an "asthma pump" when leaving the house. While 70% reported feeling in control over their asthma symptoms, 63% reported feelings of anxiety and 39% could remember a time when they felt like they were going to die from asthma. Subjects who reported feeling in control over their asthma were more likely to take an asthma pump with them when leaving the house (r = 72, p = 0.004). Only 39% had disclosed their asthma to their friends, and 29% felt embarrassed about having an asthma attack in front of their friends. Subjects who felt embarrassed about their asthma were significantly less likely to take their asthma pumps with them (r = 0.98, p < 0.001) and less likely to use their medications in front of their friends (r = .87, p < 0.001). Conclusions. Adolescents in this study reported feelings of anxiety, fear, and embarrassment about their asthma. Feelings of control over asthma symptoms were associated with positive attitudes toward self-treatment, while embarrassment was correlated with negative attitudes. These findings have implications for counseling adolescents with asthma about self-management strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-211
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Asthma
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2003


  • Adolescents
  • Asthma
  • Attitudes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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