Depressive symptoms in children with cystic fibrosis and parents and its effects on adherence to airway clearance

Beth A. Smith, Avani C. Modi, Alexandra L. Quittner, Beatrice L. Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

113 Scopus citations


Background: Little is currently known about the co-morbidity of depression and cystic fibrosis (CF) and there is currently no empirical research on the effects of depressive symptoms on adherence in children and adolescents with CF. The primary aim of this study was to evaluate the extent of depressive symptoms in children and adolescents with CF and their parents, and determine whether depressive symptoms in the child and/or parent was associated with adherence to airway clearance. We also evaluated whether children's perceptions of relational security with a parent were associated with adherence to airway clearance. Methods: Participants included 39 children with CF ages 7-17 years and their primary caregivers. Depressive symptoms were measured with the Children's Depression Inventory (CDI) and the Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression Scale (CES-D). The Relatedness Questionnaire assessed the quality of parent-child relational security. Adherence to airway clearance was measured using the daily phone diary (DPD), an empirically validated adherence measure for youth with CF. Results: Rates of depressive symptoms were elevated in children with CF and their parents (29% for children; 35% for mothers; 23% for fathers). Child depressive symptoms were significantly associated with lower rates of adherence to airway clearance, after controlling for demographic variables (r = -0.34, P = 0.02). Child depressive symptoms were associated with worse perceptions of parental relationships (t(35) = 3.2; P = 0.002) and the quality of this relationship was also related to worse adherence (r = 0.42, P = 0.005). Conclusions: A large percentage of youth with CF and their parents reported elevated symptoms of depression. Children scoring in the depressed range on a standardized screening measure and those with less secure parent-child relationships were at greatest risk for poor adherence. Thus, depressive symptoms and family relationships are appropriate targets for adherence promotion interventions, which may ultimately improve health outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)756-763
Number of pages8
JournalPediatric pulmonology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2010


  • Adolescents
  • Children
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Depression
  • Treatment adherence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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