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Asthma education for pediatric patients



  • Background of the Study

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory illness that affects the airways and causes respiratory symptoms such as wheezing, dyspnea, chest tightness, and coughing. Asthma is a chronic respiratory disorder in which the airways narrow unexpectedly and abruptly, usually in response to an allergen, cold air, exercise, or mental stress. Symptoms may include wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and coughing. An asthma attack is an episode in which a person who suffers from intermittent bronchoconstriction has such an experience, typically with a quick onset. During an asthma attack, the airways enlarge and narrow, reducing the airflow passage into and out of the lungs. It can cause shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, coughing, wheezing, and excessive mucus production. Asthma can be caused by a variety of reasons, including allergens, infections, air pollution, diet, certain drugs, psychological issues, cold air, incorrect activity, and hyperventilation. According to WHO figures, asthma was a major noncommunicable illness in 2019, with 262 million people affected and 461,000 fatalities. According to study conducted by The International Study of Asthma and Allergies (I.S.A.A.C, 2010), 12.8% of children and adults in Sub-Saharan Africa have asthma. Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition that can have a wide range of implications on the quality of life for sufferers. Asthma pathophysiology comprises a circular progression of physical manifestations caused by airflow obstruction as a result of airway inflammation. Even when the same processes (such as allergies) are at work, the forms of inflammation vary amongst persons. Patients now respond differentially to a range of stimuli, including the same stimulus at various times. At the same time, therapy outcomes can vary substantially (Kemp in Zelda Antoinette, 2015). Health communication include both verbal and written strategies for persuading and enabling individuals, groups, and communities to make sound decisions. When aiming to impact positive attitudes and actions, health communication usually integrates components from multiple theories and models. Social marketing, which involves the development of projects and programs aimed at changing behavior, has a link to health communication. Effective communication intervention strategies include the following components:

  • Use of research-based strategies to shape materials and products and to select the channels that deliver them to the intended audience.
  • Understanding of conventional wisdom, concepts, language, and priorities for different cultures and settings.
  • Consideration of health literacy, internet access, media exposure, and cultural competency of target populations.
  • Development of materials such as brochures, billboards, newspaper articles, television broadcasts, radio commercials, public service announcements, newsletters, pamphlets, videos, digital tools, case studies, group discussions, health fairs, field trips, and workbooks among others media outlets.

Using a variety of communication channels can allow health messages to shape mass media or interpersonal, small group, or community level campaigns. Health communication strategies aim to change people’s knowledge, attitudes, and/or behaviors; for example:

  • Increase risk perception
  • Reinforce positive behaviors
  • Influence social norms
  • Increase availability of support and needed services
  • Empower individuals to change or improve their health conditions Examples of media strategies to convey health messages include the following components:
  • Radio
  • Television
  • Newspaper
  • Flyers
  • Brochures
  • Internet
  • Social media tools (i.e., Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube)

Furthermore, the media, including broadcast, print, social media, and digital media, is increasingly being used to disseminate and communicate disease-related information in order to raise public awareness. As a result of the threats posed by asthma, the World Health Organization, government, and non-governmental organizations have developed numerous intervention programs focusing on asthma prevention and management. According to Helmy Haja et al. (2018), Asthma Malaysia (AM) initiated the ‘Friends or Foe’ campaign to raise awareness about asthma triggers among the Malaysian people. The campaign’s influence on social media conversations was studied, as well as web behavioral analysis, to see whether the campaign increased public interest in asthma. Public awareness was measured through social media and digital media posts. To assess levels of awareness, data was extracted using a social media monitoring program. This was done using asthma-related keywords in English and Malaysian before and after the ad. Data from AM website users was studied to better understand their demographics and psychographics. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), formed in 1953, is a non-profit organization dedicated to the cure and control of asthma, food allergies, nasal allergies, and other allergic illnesses. The AAFA created a series of asthma programs aimed at using awareness tools to educate family, friends, school, and workplace personnel about asthma and allergic disorders. This foundation focused on the use of digital media such as YouTube, Pinterest, and Google+, as well as social media initiatives like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. The success of these campaigns resulted in the establishment of an online community (AAFA Online Community), which routinely wrote on blogs, ran online polls, and hosted webinars to keep the public informed about asthma and associated allergies, as well as how to manage the illness.

 According to the Global Initiative for Asthma (2019), the influence of communication interventions on asthma knowledge, attitude, and practices has typically benefited in illuminating the general public as well as assisting those living with asthma to cope with and adapt a way of life with it. World Asthma Day (WAD), coordinated by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) in partnership with WHO, is observed annually in May. It is a day set aside to raise awareness of asthma around the world. The most recent one, held on May 5, 2021, was titled “Uncovering Asthma Misconceptions” and aimed to provide more light on the ailment. GINA makes use of digital media, specifically YouTube, blogs, their own website, and social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. WAD in Nigeria was also recognized, and a YouTube video with specific information on the numerous misunderstandings that young people have about asthma was released for the public to view and learn from. There is also the Asthma Care and Treatment in Nigeria (ACTIN) support organization, which is dedicated to delivering pertinent education, medication, and lifestyle treatments that can benefit Nigerian asthmatic patients. People Living with Asthma in Nigeria (PLAIN) is the driving force behind this effort. This non-governmental group primarily uses Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for frequent campaigns aimed at young people. Those who are effectively treated, well-educated about all elements of their illness, and compliant are less affected, whereas those who are not may suffer greatly from chronic airflow limitation. Research has shown that asthma management and control have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life, and that any level of symptom severity has an impact on quality of life, even in people who only experience occasional symptoms (Leynaert et al in Zelda Antoinette, 2015).

Statement of the Problem

Despite the onslaught of communication interventions on asthma, many people in Sub-Saharan Africa, particularly youth, remain in the dark about knowledge, attitude, and practices. This situation, if not addressed, will continue to expose more people to asthma-related illnesses and fatalities. Indeed, there is a need for communication intervention on asthma with the goal of educating the public on how to manage and prevent asthmatic attacks. Asthma is a major public health concern around the world, affecting people of all ages. Asthma, when unchecked, can severely affect one’s everyday life and could be fatal.