Family obligations and asthma in youth: The moderating role of socioeconomic status

Phoebe H. Lam*, Cynthia S. Levine, Jessica J. Chiang, Madeleine U. Shalowitz, Rachel E. Story, Robin Hayen, Rebecca N. Sinard, Edith Chen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objective: Fulfilling family obligations-providing instrumental help to and spending time with family-is a common aspect of family relationships. However, whether fulfilling these obligations links with physical health remains unclear. In this study, we investigated whether fulfilling family obligations was associated with asthma outcomes among youth, and whether these associations differed depending on family socioeconomic status (SES). Method: Participants were 172 youth, 8 to 17 years of age (Mage = 12.1; 54% boys) who had been physician-diagnosed with asthma and reported on family-obligation frequency; completed the Asthma Control Test (ACT; Nathan et al., 2004), a clinical measure of asthma control; and completed a measure of airway inflammation (i.e., fractional exhaled nitric oxide). Parents also completed the ACT in reference to their asthmatic children and reported on family income. Results: Fulfilling family obligations was not associated with asthma outcomes (βs < .14, ps > .075). However, SES (family income) interacted with family obligations, such that fulfilling family obligations was associated with greater airway inflammation (interaction term β =-.17, p = .023) and poorer parent-reported asthma control (interaction term β = .15, p = .039), only among youth from lower SES backgrounds. Exploratory analyses suggest that these interactions were robust against covariates and were largely consistent across age and the two dimensions of family-obligation behaviors. Conclusion: Findings from this study suggest that among youth from lower SES backgrounds, engaging in more frequent familyobligation behaviors may have negative repercussions in terms of their asthma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)968-978
Number of pages11
JournalHealth Psychology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2018


  • asthma
  • family obligations
  • socioeconomic status
  • youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Applied Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Family obligations and asthma in youth: The moderating role of socioeconomic status'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this