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18-07-2013 | Respiratory | Article

Child’s view of asthma symptoms ‘may differ from parents’’


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medwireNews: Children’s own accounts of their asthma symptoms frequently differ from those of their parents, a study by US researchers indicates.

The study authors therefore urge clinicians to question both children and their caregivers in order to accurately capture the impact of asthma on a child’s quality of life (QoL).

“Our research shows that physicians should ask parents and children about the effects asthma is having on the child's daily life,” commented lead study author Margaret Burks (University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio) in a press statement.

“Parents can often think symptoms are better or worse than what the child is really experiencing, especially if they are not with their children all day.”

To assess the level of agreement between pediatric patients and their caregivers with regard to the patients’ health-related (HR) QoL, Burks et al studied 79 children aged 5–17 years and their caregivers. Fifty-three of the children had acute asthma and 26 had refractory asthma.

The children completed the Pediatric Asthma Quality of Life Questionnaire while caregivers completed the Pediatric Asthma Caregiver’s Quality of Life Questionnaire.

Analysis revealed similar scores between children and caregivers with regard to overall HRQoL, as well as similar scores in the sub-domains of emotional function and symptoms.

However, children and caregivers had significantly different scores in the subdomain of activity limitation, with children reporting less limitation and better QoL than their caregivers (mean score 4.62 versus 3.49). This was true for children with both forms of asthma.

Further analysis showed that agreement was worse for male than for female patients, with boys reporting higher scores than their caregivers on all domains, indicating better HRQoL; the difference was significant in the domain of activity limitation.

By contrast, girls reported lower scores than their caregivers in all domains, although most comparisons were not significant.

Writing in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, the authors conclude: “Children and their caregivers do not always agree, particularly in their assessment of activity limitation due to asthma. Thus, it is critical to obtain information from both parties in the evaluation of children with asthma.”

In a press statement, James Sublett, from the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, remarked: “It is important for children to tell their allergist about their symptoms so the best treatment can be provided and over-treating doesn't occur.”

medwireNews ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2013

By Joanna Lyford, Senior medwireNews Reporter

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