Asthma control in London secondary school children
Compared to other European countries, the UK has relatively high rates of morbidity and mortality in children with asthma. Poor understanding of the potential risks of asthma conditions are thought to be associated with deaths in children and young people with asthma. Previous studies of asthma control in children have identified overoptimistic perception of asthma control by both children and their parents. However, there has been no prior research in the UK on the level of asthma control or asthma knowledge in adolescents in schools.
The aim of asthma therapy is to reduce morbidity and mortality by achieving good control of asthma symptoms. The most common forms of therapy are ‘reliever’ (short-acting β2 agonists [SABA]) inhalers and ‘preventer’ (ICS±LABA) inhalers, often used with a tool called a spacer to aid inhalation.
Aims of the study
This study aimed to assess asthma control in London schoolchildren, aged 11 to 18 years, using an online questionnaire incorporating the Asthma Control Test (see below). The researchers also investigated knowledge of asthma therapies, adherence to asthma therapies and the impact of asthma on school life.
- Almost half of the students reported suboptimal asthma control: 30% made an unplanned visit to the GP in the last month due to asthma.
- Students did not always have a good understanding of their level of asthma control: more than half of students with suboptimal control considered their asthma to be ‘well’ or ‘completely’ controlled.
- Over 40% of students reported feeling somewhat comfortable’, ‘hardly comfortable’ or ‘not at all comfortable’ using their reliever inhaler at school.
- Students who felt uncomfortable with using their reliever inhaler were more likely to have suboptimal asthma control.
- ‘Forgetfulness’ was the main reason many students gave for not always using their preventer inhaler.
- Knowledge of how to use the preventer inhaler was low, however we could not conclude that this was a predictor of suboptimal asthma control.