Psychological Factors Influencing the Decision of Urban Adolescents With Undiagnosed Asthma to Obtain Medical Care

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Journal of Adolescent Health


Purpose: Adolescents are low users of medical care. Psychological factors and perceived reasons to not seek routine medical care may increase risk of nonuse by adolescents with undiagnosed asthma. This study tests if psychological factors were associated with seeing a medical provider for asthma-like symptoms; identifies adolescents' perceived reasons for not obtaining care; explores if psychological factors are associated with these perceptions; and explores if asthma severity moderates the relationships with psychological factors.
Methods: We analyzed cross-sectional data from a baseline assessment of 349 urban, primarily ethnic minority adolescents with moderate to severe asthma-like symptoms but no asthma diagnosis who were enrolled in a controlled trial.
Results: The odds of seeing a provider for their asthma-like symptoms were significantly higher for those with asthma-related anxiety (odds ratio [OR]: 1.644; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.242–2.176) and depressive symptoms (OR: 1.031; 95% CI: 1.004–1.059). The most commonly endorsed reason for noncare included a characterization of symptoms as not serious, past medical visits not diagnosed as asthma, fear of diagnosis, busy lifestyles, and not wanting medication. Psychological factors were not related to the number of reasons or to most of the commonly endorsed reasons. Adolescents with more asthma-related anxiety were less likely to characterize their breathing problems as serious (OR = .0583; 95% CI: .424–.802) and were more likely to report busy lifestyles (OR = 1.593; 95% CI: 1.122–2.261).
Conclusions: Adolescent-perceived reasons for noncare were not pragmatic, but instead highlighted denial. Asthma-related anxiety was the most robust psychological factor associated with the decision to seek medical care.


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