Diversity Award winner

Congratulations Erin Rodríguez.

By Anna Maria Patiño-Fernández


Asthma is the most common childhood chronic illness (Akinbami et al., 2010), and Latino youth are disproportionally affected by asthma (Lara, Akinbami, Flores, & Morgenstern, 2006; Lieu et al., 2002). Youth with asthma are also at higher risk for psychosocial difficulties (e.g., Katon et al., 2007), which may exacerbate asthma and result in poorer disease control.

For Latino children with asthma, functional impairment is associated with parental acculturative stress (Koinis-Mitchell et al., 2010), but little is known about the impact of acculturation across the parent-child dyad. In the case of pediatric asthma, language usage among Latino parents and children may be a particularly relevant aspect of acculturation because parent-child communication is related to asthma control and psychosocial adjustment (Lim, Wood, & Miller, 2008). Differences in English versus Spanish language use between parents and their children may lead to communication barriers among family members (e.g., Tseng & Fuligni, 2000), which may impact children’s psychosocial adjustment and disease control.


This study’s objective was to examine associations among parent-child language discrepancies, psychosocial adjustment and asthma control in Latino children with asthma. We expected that greater discrepancies between parent and child language use in English and Spanish would be associated with more adjustment problems and poorer asthma control.


The current project was embedded in a larger-scale investigation of psychosocial adjustment, coping, and disease control in racially/ethnically diverse, urban, low-SES children ages 5-17 with asthma and their caregivers. Families were recruited between February and June 2014 from a university hospital outpatient clinic specializing in pediatric asthma. Within the larger-scale study of 78 families, there were 29 Latino/Hispanic families that participated in the current project. Caregivers (N=29) and children ages 9 and older (N=15) reported on the child’s psychosocial adjustment (the Strengths & Difficulties Questionnaire; Goodman, 1997) and asthma control (Asthma Therapy Assessment Questionnaire; Skinner et al., 2004; Asthma Control Test; Nathan et al., 2004). Parent and child proficiency in and preference for English and Spanish were assessed on a 1 (not at all) to 5 (completely) scale; difference scores between parents and children indicated discrepancies in language use. Parents also reported the number of school days missed due to asthma and completed a demographic questionnaire reporting on age, race/ethnicity, education and income.


The findings will improve understanding of how language use within the family is related to disease management and adjustment in Latino children with asthma. The results will inform the development and implementation of asthma management programs for families of children with asthma.


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Goodman, R. (1997). The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire: A research note. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 38, 581-586.

Katon, W., Lozano, P., Russo, J., McCauley, E., Richardson, L., & Bush, T. (2007). The prevalence of DSM-IV anxiety and depressive disorders in youth with asthma compared with controls. Journal of Adolescent Health, 41, 455-463.

Koinis-Mitchell, D., McQuaid, E. L., Seifer, R., Kopel, S. J., Esteban, C., Canino, G., et al. (2007). Multiple urban and asthma-related risks and their association with asthma morbidity in children. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 32, 582-595.

Lara, M., Akinbami, L., Flores, G., & Morgenstern, H. (2006). Heterogeneity of childhood asthma among Hispanic children: Puerto Rican children bear a disproportionate burden. Pediatrics, 117, 43-53.

Lieu, T. A., Lozano, P., Finkelstein, J. A., Chi, F. W., Jensvold, N. G., Capra, A. M., … & Farber, H. J. (2002). Racial/ethnic variation in asthma status and management practices among children in managed Medicaid. Pediatrics, 109, 857-865.

Lim, J., Wood, B. L., & Miller, B. D. (2008). Maternal depression and parenting in relation to child internalizing symptoms and asthma disease activity. Journal of Family Psychology, 22, 264.

Nathan, R. A., Sorkness, C. A., Kosinski, M., Schatz, M., Li, J. T., Marcus, P., Murray, J., & Pendergraft, T. B. (2004). Development of the asthma control test: A survey for assessing asthma control. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 113 , 59-65. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2003.09.008

Skinner, E. A., Diette, G. B., Algatt-Bergstrom, P. J., Nguyen, T. T., Clark, R. D., Markson, L. E., & Wu, A. W. (2004). The Asthma Therapy Assessment Questionnaire (ATAQ) for children and adolescents. Disease Management, 7, 305-313.

Tseng, V., & Fuligni, A. J. (2000). Parent-adolescent language use and relationships among immigrant families with East Asian, Filipino, and Latin American backgrounds. Journal of Marriage and Family, 62 (2), 465-476.