Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 8-5-2020

Faculty Advisor(s)

Brooke Jenkins


Asthma is the leading chronic condition amongst children in the United States as 7.5% of children are diagnosed with asthma. Studies have shown that positive social support is associated with positive asthma management. A strong social support system predicts good management of asthma symptoms; however, current literature has not yet examined how social support impacts lung function as opposed to merely symptom management. Stress and negative affect have been revealed to be associated with worse asthma control, as well as exacerbation of symptoms. Stressful situations, such as the death of a family member, unemployment, and familial tensions lead to worsening asthma symptoms, caused by the release of hormones. Similarly, negative affect has been analyzed as a causal factor for worsening asthmatic symptoms. Therefore, this pilot study sought to assess parental social support, adolescent stress and negative affect, and adolescent biological lung function to determine whether these affective processes (negative affect and stress) might serve as mediators in the association between social support and lung function. Adolescents suffering from asthma ages 12-17 (mean age = 13.9) (n = 21) were recruited from the pediatric asthma clinic at CHOC Children’s Hospital of Orange County for this pilot study. Participants were asked to complete a baseline survey upon recruitment assessing parental social support and stress. Seven consecutive days thereafter, for 4 times a day, participants were given a spirometer and asked to record lung function values including Peak Expiratory Flow (PEF) and Forced Expiratory Volume in 1 second (FEV1) as well as negative affect emotionality. Regression analysis revealed that higher levels of parental social support were associated with lower negative affect, b = -0.44, p < 0.05, and stress, b = -0.40, p < 0.05. However, there was no association between parental social support and lung function, for both PEF and FEV1 values. Implications for this study suggest that children with asthma who have more social support from parents have less stress and less negative affect. Next steps in this work are to analyze these mediators again, by recruiting more participants to the present study. Research should continue to consider psychological factors on children’s asthma in hopes of improving quality of their life.


Presented at the 2020 SURF Virtual Summer Research Conference.