Friday, October 14, 2011

Study to examine effects of risky family environments in childhood asthma

Does a risky family environment increase the risk of asthma?
Asthma, the chronic lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways and makes breathing difficult, is the third ranking cause of hospitalization of children younger than 15 in the United States, says the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

It is the leading cause of school absences from a chronic illness in 5- to 17-year-old children, accounting for an annual loss of more than 14 million school days per year.

Researchers are scrambling to find explanations for the increase in asthma diagnoses and possible ways to prevent and treat the disease.

Study will bring the research home

A Wayne State University researcher is now investigating the impact of risky family environments on asthma morbidity in children.

The project will study 180 children between the ages of 10 and 15 in Detroit, using an innovative home-based naturalistic assessment tool called the Electronically Activated Recorder (EAR).

The EAR will measure whether identified risky family behaviors are associated with greater asthma morbidity -- such as symptom severity, emergency room visits and pulmonary function -- in three waves of data collection over two years.

In addition, the research will try to determine if asthma morbidity increases because of avoidant coping behaviors and poor management of asthma treatment, such as noncompliance with treatment plans or poor asthma management behaviors.

What is a risky family environment?

The researcher, Richard Slatcher, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology in Wayne State University's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, defines “risky” family environments as those characterized by
  • Conflict
  • Neglect
  • Lack of emotional warmth and support
"It also will allow physicians to include family interventions based on family assessments, which ultimately will improve adherence to treatment plans as well as avoidance of asthma triggers that can lead to severe asthma attacks or even death," said Slatcher in a press release.

Source: Wayne State University press release

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