Preschoolers with asthma: Narratives of family functioning predict behavior problems

Mary Spagnola, Barbara Fiese

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study tested a model predicting behavior symptoms in preschoolers with asthma. Specifically, it examined the role that asthma severity and children's representations of family functioning may play in the development of child behavior problems in a sample of 53 low-income preschoolers. The study included parent report of asthma severity and a narrative story-stem method to assess children's representations of both general and disease-specific family processes. A regression model tested the inclusion of both types of family processes in predicting child internalizing and externalizing behavior. Disease severity and children's family narratives independently predicted children's behavior over and above the combined effects of demographic variables including child age, socioeconomic status, and family structure. Although children's narratives about general family functioning predicted children's behavior, narratives about family response to asthma symptoms did not. Findings support that both disease severity and family functioning are important considerations in understanding children's behavior problems in the context of asthma. Clinical applications of findings may include: (1) Informing family based-assessments to incorporate children's narratives, and (2) A focus on reducing asthma symptoms and strengthening family functioning to prevent or address child behavior problems. 2010

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)74-91
Number of pages18
JournalFamily Process
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Asthma
  • Children's narratives
  • Families and chronic illness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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