Amazingly, some caregivers and parents tend to ignore the need for asthma management, and do not see their child's condition as serious or chronic. A group of writers note, "The resistance to the concept of asthma as a chronic illness may be linked to the fact that a majority of the children had symptoms consistent with mild, intermittent asthma, which caregivers interpreted as contradictory to the concept of chronic" (Nelson, et al., 2006, p. 274). If asthma is to be managed effectively, parents and educators must be involved in the management, and they must understand the severity of the disease, even when the symptoms do not seem chronic or severe. Clearly, education is the key to this aspect of managing the disease, but some caregivers and parents report education, even from their own doctors, is often lacking, especially when the symptoms are less severe.
Another group of authors conducted a study of doctors and patients with varying levels of asthma, and measured the education caregivers received about managing the disease. The results were very interesting, and may point to why some caregivers tend to ignore the need for asthma management. The authors note, "In looking at specific content areas, education reported was significantly different between groups of children with mild symptoms vs. children with more severe symptoms in the areas of medication management, written plans of care, and smoking as a trigger" (McMullen, et al., 2007, p. 39). Most caregivers report instruction on how to use an inhaler, and how to manage an asthma attack, but far less report talking about management goals or when to seek emergency medical attention with their doctors or other healthcare providers. The researchers continue, "These less concrete issues included the health care provider asking the parent about the child's feelings about asthma, sharing their goals for successful asthma management, and collaboratively developing with the parent a written plan of care on how to treat an [attack] (McMullen, et al., 2007, p. 41). Thus, caregivers are not receiving all the information they need to create a workable plan to manage asthma, and they may not even be receiving information on what triggers asthma (McMullen, et al., 2007, p. 41) so they may be exacerbating the problem without knowing it. Many healthcare workers wait to give some of this vital information until the attacks or condition worsens, and if they had been more proactive at the beginning of the process, perhaps some of this worsening could have been avoided. Another aspect of care that is often ignored is developing a written Asthma Management Plan, which can be useful for anyone dealing with an asthma sufferer.
If managing asthma effectively is the goal in healthcare, more healthcare providers need to take an active role in helping caregivers manage asthma in their asthma sufferers, and they need to understand how important it is for them to collaborate with caregivers to create better awareness and understanding about asthma. More understanding and awareness could lead to a reduction in healthcare costs, because asthma sufferers could manage their attacks more effectively and avoid seeking emergency medical attention, too.
Another way to manage asthma effectively is reported by McMullen and co-researchers. As a result of their study, at least one city has developed requirements for every child who suffers from asthma to have a written Asthma Action Plan before they enter school, and the plan must be on file at the school. The plan would be actively discussed between healthcare provider, parent, and child, and included in the plan would be the triggers that can cause asthma attacks, including second-hand smoke (McMullen, et al., 2007, p. 43). This would help ensure the parents understand the severity of the disease and how to manage it, and educators have those tools readily at hand, as well. This is an important step in managing a disease that can affect a person for their entire lives.
In conclusion, managing asthma effectively is important for any number of reasons, from educational progress to preventing what can be a deadly disease if it is not…