Gender differences in psychological distress in adults with asthma
- Disease management
We sought to examine whether there were gender differences in the relationship of depressive, anxiety-related, and somatic symptomatology to the presence, severity, and duration of asthma.
A total of 54 adult asthma patients (24 women, 30 men) and 31 healthy subjects (19 women, 12 men) were studied. Within each gender group, patients' psychological distress levels were compared as a function of severity (mild vs. moderate) and duration of disease (<5 vs. 5+ years), to each other and with healthy subjects. Data were collected in Ukraine utilizing the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), the best-validated psychological assessment instrument in Eastern European populations.
Relative to healthy women, women with both mild and moderate asthma showed elevated distress in multiple domains reflecting somatic and psychological complaints. In contrast, only men with relatively more severe disease of longer duration showed elevated symptomatology relative to healthy men, with depressive symptoms predominating.
To the extent that distress in response to asthma takes a more diffuse form and may be expressed at milder and earlier stages of the disease in women than men, the findings suggest the need to tailor asthma education and behavioral interventions to the unique psychological needs of women and men in order to be maximally effective.