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Association between asthma symptom scores and perceived stress and trait anxiety in adolescents with asthma

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Emotional disorders, including depression and anxiety, are more prevalent in individuals with asthma than in the general population and are associated with poor asthma outcomes. Identification of patients with increased levels of stress and anxiety may be helpful when treating asthma and during asthma counseling.


To further characterize the relationship between asthma symptoms and perceived stress and trait anxiety in an adolescent population.


Adolescents (N = 335) ages 14‐17 years were recruited to examine the effect of stress on health measures. They were included in the present analysis if they reported current asthma, defined as self-reported clinician-diagnosed asthma plus one or more episodes of asthma in the past year. Asthma symptoms were assessed on a 7-point scale by using a standardized questionnaire that targets nocturnal awakening due to asthma, symptoms on awakening, activity limitation, shortness of breath, time spent wheezing, and short-acting bronchodilator use. Stress was measured by using the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), and trait anxiety was measured by using the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. Linear regression was used to associate asthma symptoms with PSS and trait anxiety.


Thirty-eight adolescents (11.3%), with mean ± standard deviation age 16.7 ± 0.9 years, reported current asthma. Four of the six asthma symptom assessments had significant associations with PSS: symptoms on awakening (β = 4.82, p < 0.001), nocturnal awakening due to asthma (β = 4.47, p < 0.001), activity limitation (β = 2.78, p = 0.005), and shortness of breath (β = 1.73, p = 0.014). These associations remained significant after adjusting for gender, race, and the body mass index percentile. Trait anxiety had significant associations with nocturnal awakening (β = 9.28, p = 0.002) and symptoms on awakening (β = 8.74, p = 0.002). Associations remained significant after adjusting for gender, race, and body mass index percentile.


Asthma symptom severity is associated with increased perceived stress and trait anxiety. Adolescents with asthma may represent a population that is particularly vulnerable to perceived stress and anxiety, which highlights the importance of considering these factors in asthma counseling.
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Keywords: adolescent; anxiety; asthma; asthma control questionnaire; perceived stress; perceived stress scale; state trait anxiety inventory; stress; trait anxiety

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: From the Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, Michigan; and 2: Department of Public Health Sciences, Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, Michigan

Publication date: May 1, 2020

More about this publication?
  • Allergy and Asthma Proceedings is a peer reviewed publication dedicated to distributing timely scientific research regarding advancements in the knowledge and practice of allergy, asthma and immunology. Its primary readership consists of allergists and pulmonologists.

    The goal of the Proceedings is to publish articles with a predominantly clinical focus which directly impact quality of care for patients with allergic disease and asthma and by having the potential to directly impact the quality of patient care. AAP welcomes the submission of original works including peer-reviewed original research and clinical trial results. Additionally, as the official journal of the Eastern Allergy Conference (EAC), AAP will publish content from EAC poster sessions as well as review articles derived from EAC lectures.

    Featured topics include asthma, rhinitis, sinusitis, food allergies, allergic skin diseases, diagnostic techniques, allergens, and treatment modalities. Published material includes peer-reviewed original research, clinical trials and review articles.

    Articles marked "F" offer free full text for personal noncommercial use only.

    The journal is indexed in Thomson Reuters Web of Science and Science Citation Index Expanded, plus the National Library of Medicine's PubMed service.
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