Upwards of 6 million children in the United States are afflicted with pediatric asthma. While previous research has linked asthma to multiple contributing biological and environmental factors, recent research suggests that psychological and social factors may have an impact on physiological outcomes of asthma like lung function and lung inflammation. Therefore, we suggest the need to study the impact of positive psychological factors such as a well-functioning family environment and beneficial social support on symptoms and lung function of children diagnosed with asthma. In the present pilot study, we recruited a total of 15 children with a confirmed asthma diagnosis and their parents from the Division of Pulmonology at the Children’s Hospital of Orange County. Participants were asked to complete an initial baseline assessment as well as ecological momentary assessments four times a day for seven days followed by a final follow up survey. Asthma symptoms and pulmonary function were measured using a 7-item Asthma Control Diary, and peak expiratory flow (PEF) values were gathered using data from self-administered spirometer recordings during the ecological momentary assessment portion of the study. This pilot study demonstrates the feasibility in collecting ecological momentary assessments surrounding positive psychological factors. Further, in testing the associations between family functioning and social support on children’s asthma symptoms and lung function, children who received more support from teachers (b = 0.03, t = 2.34, p = 0.048) and close friends (b = 0.04, t = 3.88, p = 0.006) had worse symptoms and lung function. Family functioning was not significantly associated with asthma symptoms and lung function (b = -0.00, t = -0.03, p = 0.975). Based on the results obtained, significant associations were only found in some aspects of social support. Interestingly, it seems as though children with more social support had worse asthma symptoms and lung function. This negative association might be an issue of reverse causality in which children who need more assistance receive more support. Next steps in this work include testing these associations in a larger-scale study. In sum, as pediatric asthma’s prevalence continues to rise, future studies should further examine the relationship between positive psychological factors and children’s asthma resilience.
Jaafar, Dalia; Hikita, Natasha H.; Tirakitsoontorn, Pornchai; Talamantes, Azucena; Yuengsrigul, Anchalee; Sternlicht, Eric; and Jenkins, Brooke N., "Pediatric Asthma and Psychological Resilience: Examining Whether Family Functioning and Social Support Relate to Asthma Symptoms and Lung Function" (2020). Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters. 423.