The Experience of Living with Severe Asthma, Depression and Anxiety: A Qualitative Art-Based Study

Michelle A. Stubbs, Vanessa L. Clark, Melissa Mei Yin Cheung, Lorraine Smith, Bandana Saini, Janelle Yorke, Eleanor C. Majellano, Peter G. Gibson, Vanessa M. McDonald

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Severe asthma, depression and anxiety often co-exist and increase disease burden. Currently there are no published studies investigating severe asthma and psychological comorbidity using arts-based methodology. We aimed to (i) illustrate the individual experience of adults living with severe asthma, with and without symptoms of depression and/or anxiety and (ii) to explore common characteristics depicted in artworks between those groups. Patients and Methods: A qualitative arts-based study was conducted. Adults with severe asthma were categorised into two groups according to Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale scores (<8 on either subscale [SA-D/A] (N=15) or (≥8 on one or both subscales [SA+D/A] (N=15). Art thematic analysis was undertaken using a hybrid approach. The Common-Sense Model of Self-Regulation was used to examine frequen-cies in artworks. Results: Participants with severe asthma alone and severe asthma with depression/anxiety were of older age (median 67 and 63 years respectively). There was greater asthma QoL impairment in participants with psychological comorbidity than without (4.7 ± 8.3 versus 5.8 ± 0.85, p=<0.01). Analysis of art works identified three themes: (1) “darkness” depicting misery, isolation and sadness; (2) “impacts” describing physical and social consequences; and (3) “resilience” illustrating acceptance and perseverance of living with all three conditions. Conclusion: Art-based research in severe asthma facilitates detailed exploration of intimate and individual experiences. Darkness, impacts and resilience are common themes emerging from artworks. Understanding these experiences may help guide assessment and treatment of psychological comorbidity in the clinic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1527-1537
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Asthma and Allergy
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • anxiety
  • artworks
  • depression
  • mental health
  • severe asthma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'The Experience of Living with Severe Asthma, Depression and Anxiety: A Qualitative Art-Based Study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this