Children and adolescents

  Population considerations:

  • Social support. Because asthma management can require daily medication and observations as well as careful monitoring of the environment, children and adolescents benefit from added support (Patterson, 2000). Family members and caregivers play a major role in a child’s asthma management as informal support structures. Children spend a majority of their time in school.  School administrators, teachers, coaches and nurses are important formal support structures that can make a difference in asthma management by creating supportive policies on inhaler and medication use, establishing emergency procedures for asthma episodes, providing school-based education programs and keeping individual student asthma action plans on file (AAAI). 
  • Environment. Children may be more sensitive to environmental factors that may trigger asthma. Outdoor pollutants, such as pollen and pollution and indoor pollutants, such as smoke, mold and cleaning agents, may affect a child’s asthma frequency and severity (LeNoir, 1999; Lopez, 2002). Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke or maternal smoking during pregnancy may add to the development of asthma in childhood (AAAAI).
  • Skills and knowledge. Children may lack the skills and knowledge of what actions to take when an asthma episode occurs (Flower, 2005). Adolescents are often going through a number of hormonal and social changes that may influence their capacity to attend to actions that might prevent asthma episodes. 

  Strategies to address these considerations:

  • Consider developmental stages. Given the important role of the individual patient in asthma prevention and management, it may be important to acknowledge various developmental stages and tailor your intervention to the age range of the children you are targeting (AAAAI).
  • Provide skills training. It is important that formal and informal social supports act together (AAAAI).  It may be necessary to increase collaboration not only between schools and families, but also to improve cooperation with health care providers. As a source of informal support, it is important to ensure family members and caregivers understand all asthma management plans and can assist children in engaging in the necessary activities.  It is important that formal support structures (e.g., schools, daycares) are aware of asthma management plans and that they provide access to asthma resources (e.g., medications) as needed (Lopez, 2002).
  • Improve environment. It may be useful to work with places where children spend time (e.g., schools, activity centers, daycares) to help them understand how the environments they create may influence asthma episodes.  Educate child-centered facilities on how they can take steps to minimize the existence of different asthma triggers in their environments (e.g., control animal and pest allergens, clean up mold, control moisture, eliminate second hand smoke exposure, reduce dust mite exposure).
  • Increase knowledge. Educate families, school, faith-based organizations, community groups, health care providers, worksites and other groups to help them understand how to assist children in managing asthma, what to do during an asthma attack and how to reduce triggers.

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