The effects of caregiver depression on childhood asthma: Pathways and mechanisms

Beatrice L. Wood, E. Sherwood Brown, Heather K. Lehman, David A. Khan, Min Jung Lee, Bruce D. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Objective: To review the literature regarding the effects of caregiver depression on childhood asthma and integrate the findings into a multilevel model of pathways by which these effects occur to further the understanding of the complex biopsychosocial nature of childhood asthma and the key role that is played by caregiver depression. Data Sources: PubMed was searched for articles published from 2007 to the present (10-year search), and Google Scholar was searched for articles published in 2017 and 2018 to identify the most recent publications. Study Selections: Studies selected were recent, empirical, or meta-analytic, conducted in humans, and had specific relevance to one or more of the identified pathways. Articles published before 2007 were included if deemed essential because they addressed key pathways, for which there were no more recent articles. Results: Review of the literature substantiates that caregiver depression plays a key role in the socioeconomic, familial, psychological, and biological cascade of effects on childhood asthma. Childhood asthma outcomes are affected indirectly by socioeconomic status and family stress mediated by caregiver depression, which affects disease management, and/or stress and depression in the child, which, in turn, affect asthma through alterations in immune modulation and autonomic regulation. Conclusion: Findings indicate that future research should concentrate on mediators and moderators to further clarify the complex interplay of these factors that affect childhood asthma. The findings also have substantial translational implications. Given that child stress and depression contribute to asthma disease activity and that treating caregiver depression improves child stress and depression, there is strong rationale for treating depressed caregivers of children with asthma as a component means of improving childhood asthma control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)421-427
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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