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Children's self-esteem can affect their response to asthma

While many urban children suffer from asthma, those who have high self-esteem and good problem-solving skills may be less likely to have their asthma symptoms interfere with school, a new study finds.

"Our results suggest that in spite of facing asthma symptoms, stressors related to urban residence, as well as family life stressors, children's individual characteristics such as higher levels of problem-solving beliefs and self-esteem were associated with fewer school absences, more participation in activities, and less missed sleep," says lead author, Daphne Koinis Mitchell, PhD, with the Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center (BHCRC) and Brown Medical School.

This study, published in the December 2005 issue of the Journal of School Health, is an important step towards identifying ways in which school systems can develop plans to help students with asthma improve their academic performance.

Asthma can influence school absences, increase emergency room visits, limit physical activities, and account for sleep loss. If not properly treated, asthma can negatively impact children's ability to learn when in school, the authors write.

But are there are factors that might mitigate these effects? The authors studied a group of urban, school-aged children (and their mothers) with asthma from minority backgrounds.

They found that self-esteem and children's beliefs about their problem-solving abilities functioned as "resource factors", or personality characteristics, that helped counter the negative effects of asthma and urban living. In fact, more positive problem-solving beliefs were associated with more participation in activities and less missed sleep.

Research shows that urban living and its associated family stressors like poverty and exposure to violence can also compromise children's school functioning. In addition, as one of the most prevalent childhood chronic illnesses in the US, asthma is overrepresented in c
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Contact: Carol L. Vieira
cvieira1@lifespan.org
401-432-1328
Lifespan
22-Feb-2006


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