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Stress-related asthma and family therapy: Case study

Maria Theodoratou-Bekou1*, Ourania Andreopoulou2, Panoraia Andriopoulou3 and Beatrice Wood4

Author Affiliations

1 T.E.I. of Patras, School of Health and Welfare Professions, 20, Stavropoulou str, Patras, 25002, Greece

2 Medical School, University of Patras, Rio, Greece

3 New York College, 21, Votsi str, Patras, 22621, Athens, Greece

4 Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, University of Buffalo, 219 Bryant Street, Buffalo, NY, 14222, USA

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Annals of General Psychiatry 2012, 11:28  doi:10.1186/1744-859X-11-28

Published: 13 November 2012


This paper applies the Biobehavioral Family Model (BBFM) of stress- related illness to the study and treatment of an adolescent with intractable asthma. The model is described, along with supportive research findings. Then a case study is presented, demonstrating how the model is clinically applied. We tell the story of an asthmatic adolescent presenting for therapy due to her intense asthmatic crises, and the case is presented to exemplify how the BBFM can help understand the family-psychobiological contribution to exacerbation of disease activity, and therefore guide treatment towards the amelioration of severe physical symptoms. Facets of the patient’s intra-familial interactions are consistent with the BBFM, which support clinical validation of the model. In the case described, it is likely that additional asthma medications would not have had the desired ameliorative effect, because they did not target the family relational processes contributing to the symptoms. The recognition of the influences of family relational processes on the disease was crucial for effective intervention. The therapy incorporates and weaves together BBFM understanding of family patterns of interaction and physiological/medical concerns integrated with Bowenian intervention strategies. This case study validates the importance and usefulness of BBFM for intervention with stress-sensitive illnesses such as asthma.

Family; Differentiation; Asthma; Intervention