Depression, Anxiety, and Emergency Department Use for Asthma

A study by Naomi Bardach, MD, associate professor in the department of pediatrics at UCSF and core faculty member of the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies, shows that 25% of patients with asthma have depression, anxiety, or both. That is a high number. Their higher emergency department use for asthma indicates that we (doctors, parents, teachers, etc) have an opportunity to improve their care and their outcomes. 

The study looked at over 65,000 patients with asthma, ages 6-21, and found not only do these mental health issues correlate to double the number of ED visits—which are preventable, costly and can indicate the child had a dangerous asthma attack—but also that children with asthma are much more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression. Of the children with asthma studied, 25% had anxiety or depression or both, which is well above normal rates for these diseases (only up to 8% of teens are depressed). Researchers concluded that asthma, depression and anxiety all require careful attention to manage and the burden of multiple chronic diseases may result in the increased number of ED visits, but that more research is needed to determine if intensive management and care coordination for pediatric asthma patients with anxiety and/or depression might reduce this increased dependence on ED care.

Link to study: