DETROIT -- According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, asthma is the third ranking cause of hospitalization of children younger than 15 in the United States. It is the leading cause of school absences from a chronic illness in 5- to 17-year-olds, accounting for an annual loss of more than 14 million school days per year. A Wayne State University researcher is now investigating the impact of risky family environments on asthma morbidity in children.
The five-year, $3 million grant, "Risky Family Environments and Childhood Asthma," funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health, will be led by Richard Slatcher, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology in Wayne State University's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and resident of Beverly Hills, Mich.
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.
According to Slatcher, little is known about how risky family environments -- those characterized by conflict, neglect, and lack of emotional warmth and support -- affect health. "A key limitation of previous research is that our knowledge of family life of children with asthma has been based entirely on self-reports and interviews of family members," said Slatcher. "It is well known that those traditional types of assessment tools can give biased -- even inaccurate -- pictures
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Wayne State University - Office of the Vice President for Research