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J Asthma. 2012 Dec;49(10):1030-6. doi: 10.3109/02770903.2012.726305. Epub 2012 Oct 11.

The role of maternal illness perceptions in perceived asthma symptoms in school-aged children.

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Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands.



To examine the unique contribution of perceptions held by mothers about their children's asthma in relation to the symptoms as reported by their children.


Families with a child diagnosed with asthma participating in a larger smoking prevention study were invited to participate. For all, 89 children (mean age 10.1 years) and 87 mothers questionnaire and lung function data during home visits were provided. The main outcome of this study involved asthma symptoms as measured by the Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory. Mothers' and children's reports of symptoms, as well as the lung function parameter of percentage of predicted Forced Expiratory Volume in one second (% of predicted FEV1), were analyzed in relation to maternal illness perceptions.


Mothers' perceptions of illness were not associated with % of predicted FEV(1.) However, while controlling for gender and children's baseline asthma symptoms, four out of eight mothers' perceptions of illness (i.e., identity, consequences, concern, and emotional influence) were associated with children's asthma symptoms. Additional analyses controlling for % of predicted FEV(1) in the models with subjective asthma symptoms reports of mother and child did not change the study findings.


This pilot study provides evidence that, in addition to children's lung function and baseline symptoms, maternal perception of illness contributes to symptom-related quality of life (QoL) of children. More research on underlying mechanisms, which addresses the linking of mothers' perceptions of concern and emotion to the QoL symptoms as reported by children is necessary.

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