Youth Asthma Management – Looking at the Family Environment

Asthma is one of the leading causes of hospitalization for young people in the U.S.A., where more than six million children are known to suffer from this disabilitating and potentially fatal condition.  Although there is not yet any cure for the condition, it is known that good asthma management can have a significant impact in reducing the need for emergency room treatment and giving young persons with asthma a normal childhood and adolescence.

Researchers have long been interested in discovering the extent to which the family environment and other social factors affects the prognosis for young persons with an asthma diagnosis.  Richard Slatcher, Associate Professor of Psychology in the Liberal Arts and Sciences at Wayne State University has already conducted studies in this area.  Now his team of researchers on the ALOFT project (Asthma in the Lives of Family Today) have been given a £2.74 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to help build on Professor Slatcher’s earlier work.

It is hoped that the findings of the new study will help to identify both positive and negative factors, which might lead to better management of asthma in young persons in the future. Around 100 young people with asthma will be taking part in the ALOFT project.

The new study will improve on earlier ways of extracting relevant data. In addition to relying on surveys, clinical evaluations and diaries, the researchers will be giving participants in the study a new, non-invasive recording device, which will help build up a picture of family and non-family behaviours and influences which  might affect asthma management in the young person.

It is hoped that the findings of the study will help healthcare professionals to decide on the most appropriate interventions for young people whose management of asthma is affected by negative influences in their daily lives.

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