Smoking Cessation Key To Improving Quality of Life in Asthmatic Adolescents Interview with:
Dr. Wanjun Cui, MS PhD
Department of Health and Human Services,
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Authors’ response: Asthma is a leading chronic disease among adolescents that adversely affects their health. However, it is unclear how asthma influences their perceived health or health-related quality of life (HRQOL). Because their perceptions of their health may differ from those of their caregivers (such as parents or health professionals), knowing how adolescents with asthma would rate their own health is very important. Our study compares the responses of adolescents with and without asthma about different aspects of HRQOL including their overall health, their recent physical health, their recent mental health, and their recent activity limitations due to health. Unlike previous U.S. studies based on small clinical samples, our study used a nationally representative sample of U.S. adolescents that can be generalized to the whole U.S. adolescent population.

We found that asthma is adversely associated with almost all these aspects of HRQOL but only among those with asthma and current symptoms such as wheezing and dry cough. Adolescents with asthma without current symptoms did not report significantly worse HRQOL than those without asthma. For example, compared with those who never had asthma, adolescents with asthma and symptoms of dry cough or wheezing reported significantly more fair or poor self-rated health (14% vs. 8%), 34% more recent physically unhealthy days , and 26% more recent mentally unhealthy days. More importantly, adolescents with asthma who currently smoked cigarettes or reported limited physical functioning reported even worse physical and mental HRQOL.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Authors’ response: Clinicians and other health professionals should help adolescents with asthma to control their asthma symptoms to improve the adolescents’ HRQOL. Since the 15% of adolescents with asthma and symptoms who currently smoked cigarettes reported even worse HRQOL, parents and clinicians should encourage these adolescents to quit smoking to improve their mental and physical health and HRQOL. Finally, because about 20% of adolescents with asthma and symptoms reported limited physical functioning and worse HRQOL, clinicians and other health professionals should both control these adolescents’ asthma symptoms and improve their physical functioning to improve their mental and physical HRQOL.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Authors’ response: Although our research has shown adolescents have better HRQOL than adults, many adolescents still engage in risky behaviors such as smoking and drinking alcohol often associated with worse HRQOL. We thus recommend that future research should consider these behaviors when examining HRQOL in adolescents with health conditions because these behaviors might affect associations between these conditions and HRQOL.


Health-Related Quality of Life and Asthma among United States Adolescents

Cui, Wanjun et al.
The Journal of Pediatrics Published Online: November 13, 2014