Impact of caregiver depression on child asthma outcomes in Mexicans and Puerto Ricans

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Objective: Examine whether caregiver depressive symptoms at baseline predict longitudinal child asthma outcomes in the two populations with the largest asthma disparities: Mexicans and Puerto Ricans. Methods: Two hundred and sixty-seven Hispanic caregiver–child dyads (Mexican = 188, Puerto Rican = 79; children 5–12 years) were recruited from clinics and hospitals in Phoenix, AZ and the Bronx, NY. The Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale assessed caregiver depressive symptoms; higher scores indicate greater depressive symptomology. Medical records verified child asthma diagnosis. Assessments for outcome variables occurred at baseline, 3, 6, 9, and 12-month follow-ups. Pulmonary function was measured by spirometry, asthma control was measured by the Asthma Control Test, steroid bursts and acute healthcare utilization were assessed by caregiver report and medical records, and adherence was measured by doser devices on controller medications. Structural equation modeling analyzed baseline caregiver depressive symptoms as a predictor of longitudinal child asthma outcomes, and differences between subgroups. Results: Higher caregiver depressive symptoms predicted better pulmonary function (β =.02, p =.001) in Mexican children, and fewer steroid bursts (β = −.41, p =.01) and better medication adherence (β =.02, p =.07) in Puerto Rican children. Caregiver depressive symptoms did not predict pediatric asthma control or acute healthcare utilization in either subgroup. Conclusions: Caregiver depressive symptomology had unexpected effects on child asthma outcomes. Results may be explained by the Hispanic paradox, caregiver resilience, acculturation, and the study’s longitudinal nature. Further research is needed on social determinants of health that may influence differences in child asthma outcomes in heterogeneous Hispanic communities.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Journal of Asthma