Background on Individual Education
What are individual education strategies?
- Strategies that have been developed to improve the self-management of asthma among children as a way to decrease the severity of symptoms and reduce costs of care.
- They often include strategies to improve knowledge, skills and feelings of self-control regarding asthma.
- Previous studies have shown that it is important to provide information about asthma as a disease as well as skills to increase an individual’s confidence that they can manage a variety of asthma related situations.
How can I use individual education strategies in asthma interventions?
- The specific strategies used to provide information differ based on the focus of the intervention. For example, information may be provided through individual counseling sessions or self-help materials, newsletters, brochures, fact sheets, videos or posters. Other strategies may provide cues to action (e.g., good housecleaning habits) rather than specifically increasing knowledge about asthma. Most individual education strategies provide information to individuals, with some designed to offer individuals opportunities to ask questions or get clarification (e.g., through a face-to-face session with a health educator).
How do “tailored messages” and “targeted messages” differ? How can I use these messages in asthma management interventions?
- Some materials or strategies may be developed specifically to meet an individual’s characteristics regarding readiness to change, attitudes, beliefs, current asthma related behaviors and other lifestyle characteristics. These materials are often referred to as “tailored messages” because they take into account these specific individual characteristics in creating a message designed for the individual. For example, a recommendation to decrease exposure to allergens may need to be based on the individual’s readiness to remove a pet from the home. It may be that it is more realistic to recommend the person limit exposure to the animal dander by keeping the animal in well-ventilated areas, outside or, at a minimum, out of a bedroom.
- Alternately, other materials or strategies may be geared toward a specific subgroup of the population of interest (e.g., pregnant women or low-income families). These are often called “targeted messages” because they consider the specific needs of this subpopulation.
- Similarly, these strategies can be used to influence groups of people, but they are not specific to each individual.
- Both tailored and targeted strategies can be delivered once or at regular intervals (e.g., weekly, monthly, quarterly) and appear in the form of print, telephone, video or computer kiosk messages.
- Both tailored and targeted may be conducted on their own or in combination with other intervention activities (e.g., reducing exposure to environmental triggers, supportive relationships with others).
What is skill building and how can I use it in asthma management interventions?
- Skill building builds the skills of asthma sufferers to change behavior through self-management.Self-management takes individuals through a process of identifying an issue (e.g., using an inhaler), assessing routines through self-monitoring (e.g., keeping track of days, times or events when the inhaler is needed most), making sense of a routine (e.g., daily reminders to use the inhaler), identifying and setting a goal, contracting a change, and developing an action plan to achieve goal.
- Self management action plans may include how to overcome barriers and develop specific skills to overcome these barriers, or how to develop alternative coping skills in general, and, specifically, around what to do when experiencing asthma symptoms and rewarding changes as they are made.
What else do I need to consider for asthma management interventions?
- Information and skill development are important but not sufficient to help the individual engage in healthy behaviors.
- It is also helpful to learn what triggers asthma attacks for individuals and develop strategies to avoid these triggers (e.g., irritants and allergens).
- Individual information exchange interventions should be culturally sensitive and incorporate family and friends and the individual’s “readiness to change” behavior, as appropriate. For example, some children with asthma may not be ready to remove pets from the home, so it may be useful to encourage them to keep pets in well-ventilated areas and outside the bedroom.