How young children learn independent asthma self-management: A qualitative study in Malaysia

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Abstract

Objective:
We aimed to explore the views of Malaysian children with asthma and their parents to enhance understanding of early influences on development of self-management skills.
Design:
This is a qualitative study conducted among children with asthma and their parents. We used purposive sampling and conducted focus groups and interviews using a semi-structured topic guide in the participants’ preferred language. All interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim, entered into NVivo, and analysed using a grounded theory approach.
Settings:
We identified children aged 7-12 years, with parent-reported, physician-diagnosed asthma from seven suburban primary schools in Malaysia. Focus groups and interviews were conducted either at schools or a health centre.
Results:
Ninety-nine participants (46 caregivers, 53 children) contributed to 22 focus groups and 6 individual interviews. Children mirrored their parents’ management of asthma but, in parallel, learnt and gained confidence to independently self-manage asthma from their own experiences and self experimentation.
Increasing independence was more apparent in children aged 10 years and above. Cultural norms and beliefs influenced children’s independence to self-manage asthma either directly or indirectly through their social network. External influences e.g. support from school and healthcare also played a role in the transition.
Conclusion:
Children learnt the skills to self-manage asthma as early as 7 years old with growing independence from the age of 10 years. Healthcare professionals should use child-centred approach and involve schools to facilitate asthma self-management and support a smooth transition to independent self management.
Original languageEnglish
JournalArchives of Disease in Childhood
Early online date3 Jul 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Jul 2020

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