Managing asthma at home is a complex problem for most families, one that requires not only appropriate responses in the face of a wheezing episode, but efforts to prevent the onset of attacks, and attempts to reduce psychologic and social burdens that asthma imposes. Until recently, there were few models of systematic attempts beyond counseling provided by individual physicians to help patients improve their self-management skills. No rigorous evaluations of asthma education and counseling had been undertaken. In less than a decade, understanding of asthma self-management has developed greatly. While no one definition of at-home management of asthma has been accepted by clinicians or researchers, several descriptive studies have reiterated a set of patient and family management tasks. read more
Further, a complement of studies is now available of rigorously evaluated asthma health education programs. Rigorous evaluation in this context means that the studies involved a large number of subjects and constituted a controlled clinical trial of the educational intervention or used a multiple time series design for evaluation. Persuasive data are available to show that educational interventions can improve self-management, reduce wheezing, help families adjust to the demands the disease imposes on family life, improve school attendance and performance, and change the use of health services, primarily, reduce emergency visits and hospitalizations. These asthma self-management programs share three basic premises: the physician and patient are partners in the management of asthma; the context for management is variable, that is, the patient, his or her situation, medical treatment and the home environment are continually changing; and at-home management tasks must fit the familys life style. At a general level, all of these programs cover the following topics: recognizing signs and symptoms of asthma; administering prescribed medicines correctly and managing side effects; remaining calm and avoiding panic; recognizing and responding to symptoms that require emergency care; reducing exposure to known triggers; normalizing the child’s physical and social activities; and communicating effectively with physicians and other health care personnel.
Tags: asthma self-management, health care, health education programs