Parental understanding of wheeze and its impact on asthma prevalence estimates

Michel, G; Silverman, M; Strippoli, M-P F; Zwahlen, M; Brooke, A M; Grigg, J; Kuehni, C E (2006). Parental understanding of wheeze and its impact on asthma prevalence estimates. European respiratory journal, 28(6), 1124-30. Epub 2006 Jul 26.. Sheffield, UK: European Respiratory Society 10.1183/09031936.06.00008406

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The epidemiology of wheeze in children, when assessed by questionnaires, is dependent on parents' understanding of the term "wheeze". In a questionnaire survey of a random population sample of 4,236 children aged 6-10 yrs, parents' definition of wheeze was assessed. Predictors of a correct definition were determined and the potential impact of incorrect answers on prevalence estimates from the survey was assessed. Current wheeze was reported by 13.2% of children. Overall, 83.5% of parents correctly identified "whistling or squeaking" as the definition of wheeze; the proportion was higher for parents reporting wheezy children (90.4%). Frequent attacks of reported wheeze (adjusted odds ratio (OR) 3.0), maternal history of asthma (OR 1.5) and maternal education (OR 1.5) were significantly associated with a correct answer, while the converse was found for South Asian ethnicity (OR 0.6), first language not English (OR 0.6) and living in a deprived neighbourhood (OR 0.6). In summary, the present study showed that misunderstanding could lead to an important bias in assessing the prevalence of wheeze, resulting in an underestimation in children from South Asian and deprived family backgrounds. Prevalence estimates for the most severe categories of wheeze might be less affected by this bias and questionnaire surveys on wheeze should incorporate measures of parents' understanding of the term wheeze.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM)

UniBE Contributor:

Michel, Gisela, Strippoli, Marie-Pierre, Zwahlen, Marcel, Kühni, Claudia






European Respiratory Society




Factscience Import

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 14:48

Last Modified:

02 Mar 2023 23:22

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URI: (FactScience: 3182)

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