Congruence between Urban Adolescent and Caregiver Responses to Questions about the Adolescent’s Asthma

In clinical and research settings, it is increasingly acknowledged that adolescents may be better positioned than their caregivers to provide information in regard to their own health status, including information related to asthma. Very little is known, however, about the congruence between adolescent and caregiver responses to questions about asthma beyond reports of symptoms. We analyzed data for 215 urban, primarily African-American adolescent–caregiver pairs. Adolescents and caregiver reports concerning the adolescent’s asthma-related medical history were moderately correlated and not found to differ at the aggregate level. Correlations between adolescent and caregiver reports of the adolescent’s asthma symptoms and functional status were weak, although these differences deteriorated at the aggregate level. Adolescent–caregiver reports of symptoms and functioning were more likely to be in agreement if the adolescent was older, if school personnel were unaware of the child’s asthma, and if the adolescent’s asthma was classified as mild intermittent. For questions concerning the frequency of hospitalizations, emergency department visits, and physician visits, moderate correlations between adolescent and caregiver responses were noted, although with some differences at the aggregate level. Findings suggest that, when adolescents and their caregivers are asked about the adolescent’s asthma in clinical and research settings, the extent to which the two perspectives are likely to agree depends on the type of information sought. Clinicians and researchers may obtain more accurate information if questions about symptoms and functional status are directed toward adolescents.