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Soo WF, Tan NC
Correspondence: Dr Soo Wern Fern, email@example.com
INTRODUCTION Asthma is a common childhood disease, and paediatric patients with asthma rely on caregivers to administer domiciliary asthma care. This study aimed to explore the knowledge, understanding, perceptions and main concerns of caregivers and its influence on their home management of children with asthma.
METHODS Data from 14 caregivers of children with asthma was collected during three focus group discussions held in two polyclinics in Singapore. The collected data was analysed using standard content analysis and classified into themes.
RESULTS The caregivers’ main concerns included the perceived effects of infection, food and exercise on children with asthma. Several caregivers considered the disease to be infectious and had a lower threshold for physician consultation, as they believed that any delay in treating the infection would be detrimental to the child’s health. Some also perceived asthma to be episodic and self-limiting, and that their children could ‘outgrow’ it. Many caregivers believed that asthma could be modified by abstinence from, or intake of, certain foods. Others had the perception that sports, including swimming, would worsen asthma. These perceptions resulted in unnecessary restrictions of the children’s diet and activities. Most caregivers were unaware of influenza vaccination as a preventive measure to reduce triggers due to respiratory viral infections.
CONCLUSION We found that the caregivers’ perceptions of asthma aetiology, its triggers and preventive measures affected their help-seeking behaviour and care of children with asthma. Healthcare professionals managing paediatric patients with asthma should recognise such caregiver misperceptions, and take a proactive approach to rectify and bridge the gaps in caregivers’ knowledge and understanding of the disease.
Keywords: asthma, caregiver, knowledge, understanding
Singapore Med J 2014; 55(3): 132-136; http://dx.doi.org/10.11622/smedj.2014032
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