This research project aims to provide insights into the psychobiology of personality of individuals living with chronic asthma to inform treatment planning. Personal experience in observing emotional and social difficulties in an asthmatic child over years and an article on the effects of asthma medication on the cognitive and psychosocial functioning of asthmatic learners raised awareness of the problem. Medical illnesses, acute and chronic, are often accompanied by a number of disease-related stressors or events that produce stress. Stress-induced changes in the nerve and immune system affect cognitive and emotional functioning that adversely affect personality development and significantly decrease the individual’s quality of life, particularly if sustained over a long period of time. This project followed a quantitative mode of enquiry, and personality profiles were compiled at hand of the 16-PF Questionnaire. The research sample consisted of 11 Afrikaans speaking, 18-year-old asthmatic individuals from the same school. Significantly meaningful characteristics associated with chronic asthma were identified, i.e., a highly tense temperament, accompanied by low resilience, subjective anxiety, low self-worth, as well as surgency or uninhibited behaviour, tempered by moderate spontaneity and warmness. It is envisioned that these insights might significantly inform planning of treatment regimes and lifestyle modification programmes. Stress relief might improve neuroendocrine and immune functioning, delay disease progression, and reduce morbidity and mortality. The focus is thus on a general stress-coping model in order to improve quality of life.
Dissertation (MEd (Educational Psychology))--University of Pretoria, 2007.