To cite this article: Davis KJ, DiSantostefano R, Peden DB. Is Johnny wheezing? Parent–child agreement in the childhood asthma in America survey. Pediatric Allergy Immunology 2011: 22: 31–35.
We compared responses of children and parents to determine their level of agreement in a national, population-based survey regarding asthma-related health of US children. A telephone-based survey was conducted in 2004 among a national probability sample of children with current asthma in the United States. To compare responses between parent–child pairs, a subset of 284 children aged 10–15 were interviewed in addition to the parents. This survey collected data on asthma symptom prevalence, physical activity limitations and impact of exercise on asthma, and asthma management including medication use. Paired responses were compared using the kappa (κ) statistic. Overall, parents of 10–15-yr-olds underestimated the burden of asthma experienced by their children, especially the effects on physical activity. More than half (58%) of children replied that exercise was a trigger for their asthma compared to only 35% of parents (κ 0.23). Children were more likely than parents to mention activity limitations, specifically avoiding physical exertion (63% vs. 49%–κ 0.004). Prevalence of symptoms was also underreported by parents relative to children, particularly breathing problems (41% vs. 67%–κ 0.16) and cough (45% vs. 64%–κ 0.14). Maintenance therapy use in the past 4 weeks was reported by 35% of children, whereas 44% of parents believed their children had used maintenance therapy (κ 0.47). Relative to children’s self-report, parents underestimated avoidance tactics used by their children with asthma, including exercise and physical activity self-limitation to prevent the onset or worsening of asthma symptoms. Parents also underreported asthma symptoms of their children aged 10–15 years old and were discordant with their children regarding medication use. Increasing regular communication about asthma between child, parent, and physician is warranted to improve asthma control and overall health.