Research from California suggested that positive emotion methodology could be effective in reducing asthma symptoms in children.
Researchers led by Brooke N. Jenkins, PhD, considered positive psychology a “relatively new discipline” in childhood asthma.
However, decades of research suggested that multiple psychosocial factors (psychological and social variables such as stress and depression combined with social levels such as family discord and poverty) influence asthma symptoms.
In previous literature, positive emotion has been shown to improve health outcomes in health contexts such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, HIV, and stroke.
In addition, the benefits of humor in patients with diabetes were also examined.
The authors of the recent study argued that more work could be done to test the psychosocial factors that improve outcomes and management of childhood asthma, while promoting psychosocial factors and experiences that help young patients in the development process.
In their review, Jenkins and colleagues defined positive emotion before delving into the mechanisms behind the possible associations between positive emotion and asthma outcomes.
Defining Positive Emotion
Jenkins and fellow researchers stated that positive emotion was essentially emotion that was perceived as pleasurable. Joy, happiness, calmness and excitement were the main positive emotions discussed.
In the literature on adult asthma, positive emotion was linked to an increase in forced expiratory volume in the first second (FEV1), as well as fewer asthma symptoms and a reduced risk of respiratory infections.
However, no work had taken a positive psychological approach by focusing on how positive emotions in children may relate to lung function and asthma symptoms.
Mechanisms of Positive Emotion and Positive Emotion Interventions
Researchers noted that the main effect model of positive emotion strongly supports that positive emotion has health-promoting effects through its influence on protective health behaviors (sleep, routine medication use, adherence to self-management behavior) and health-relevant physiological responses (improved immune system, lower stress hormone levels, reduced inflammation, lower blood pressure).
Previous literature had shown that higher positive emotion is associated with better health behavior and health-relevant physiological functioning.
Positive emotion interventions had been used in samples of adults with breast cancer, type 2 diabetes, HIV and even adults with asthma.
The interventions have been shown to be feasible and acceptable in clinical settings and can be delivered in person, over the phone and online by trained counselors.
Often participants are taught to notice and enjoy positive events, express their gratitude to others, practice mindfulness, portray negative events in a positive light, and value their personal strengths.
Researchers noted that virtually no research had extended positive emotion health models to the field of childhood asthma. However, they believed that future basic science work could assess simple associations between positive emotion and asthma over the course of several weeks or months.
Jenkins and colleagues believed that positive emotion interventions provided a framework for future research, which they believe could be especially important in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic had greatly increased the concerns of families of children with asthma, with difficulties in obtaining medicines and reduced access to care.
“In addition, there are still unanswered questions about the risk of contraction and the severity of COVID-19 disease in this population,” the team wrote. improve children suffering from asthma.”
The review, “Applying Theoretical Models of Positive Emotion to Improve Pediatric Asthma: A Positive Psychological Approach,” was published online in Pediatric Pulmonology.