Objective Asthma is the most prevalent chronic condition among children; many studies have documented that childhood asthma is related to higher rates of symptoms of depression and anxiety. The aim of this study was to evaluate the relationships between asthma severity, type and prevalence of psychological problems in those children compared to children with cancer.
Method A group of 60 children sufferering from asthma, a group of 30 children with cancer and 60 health children were evaluated. The parents filled in the Child Behavior Check List (CBCL), and an anamnesis form on which they reported on their child’s medical history, health conditions and family situation. The Birleson depression self-rating scale (DSRS) was used in both groups.
Results Depression was significantly higher in the cancer group (33.3%) than controls and children with asthma (p<0.05). In moderate/severe asthmatic subgroups depression (15%) and anxiety disorders (35%) occure at a greater prevalence. In the mild group emotional and/or behavioral problems (15%), and anxiety disorders (20%) were more prevalent. There were more emotional and behavioral problems and anxiety disorders in the asthmatic group than in the control group. We observed that depression was highly related to the asthma severity, and that depression decreases compliance and worsens prognosis.
Conclusion In cases of severe asthma treatment of depression may increase compliance and decrease mortality. These children and their families must receive psychological support.