Study: Adolescents overly confident about asthma control

May 4, 2008

“I got it covered,” or “Yeah, I know,” are only two of the responses pediatricians and parents may encounter when probing asthmatic teens about their ability to control their condition. But a study presented at this year’s PAS conference, puts that level of control into question. Led by Maria Britto, MD, of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC), Ohio, the CCHMC researchers reported that 74% of adolescents dramatically overestimated their ability to control asthma, especially compared to the teens’ own reports of symptoms, use of rescue medications, and activity limitations. The study included 201 adolescents with an average age of 16.2 years who were observed during clinical visits.

“I got it covered,” or “Yeah, I know,” are only two of the responses pediatricians and parents may encounter when probing asthmatic teens about their ability to control their condition. But a study presented at this year’s PAS conference, puts that level of control into question. Led by Maria Britto, MD, of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC), Ohio, the CCHMC researchers reported that 74% of adolescents dramatically overestimated their ability to control asthma, especially compared to the teens’ own reports of symptoms, use of rescue medications, and activity limitations. The study included 201 adolescents with an average age of 16.2 years who were observed during clinical visits.

“We’ve known that adolescent asthma patients tend to have poorer outcomes than younger children with the condition, and this study shows that teens tend to think they’re in control when they may be having difficulty,” Dr. Britto said. Interestingly, African-American teens were found to be 6.8 times more likely to overestimate their level of control.

“For those of us who treat teens with asthma, these findings will help us address with patients their perceived control versus what is actually going on,” adds Dr. Britto. “As we have this dialogue with them, our hope is that it will improve their ability to manage their asthma and improve their health.”