Hong Kong Journal of Emergency Medicine

Volume 8 Number 4, October 2001

Knowledge and beliefs of parents of asthmatic children presenting to an emergency department

E Wong, TW Wong, M Chung, CC Lau

This is a survey on the knowledge and beliefs of 100 parents or guardians of asthmatic children presenting to the emergency department with an asthmatic attack and staying in the observation ward for treatment. The parents were asked to fill in a questionnaire on their knowledge and beliefs about asthma. Demographic data and data related to routine asthma care were also collected. The mean age of the children was 6.2±3.2. The mean duration of asthma was 3.4 year (±2.6). In the preceding 6 months the mean attendance frequency at our accident and Energency department was 1.5±1.4. The majority of respondent (79%) agreed that asthma is caused by bronchoconstriction but only 42% understood that mucosal oedema is involved during an acute attack. Many people (82%) believed that asthma is just sensitive bronchus. Less than half (40%) believes asthma is a hereditary disease. It was a common belief that asthmatic attack can be precipitated by a change of weather (89%) and cold food/drink (77%). Over 75% agreed that carpet in the house is undesirable for an asthmatic child. The majority of parents (69%) disagreed that an asthmatic child should avoid physical exercise and only 13 would not allow the child to attend physical exercise class. Over half (54%) of the respondents believed that asthma could be cured. Only a minority (17%) believed that antibiotics are useful in shortening the attack. Thirty (30%) respondents also used alternative means of therapy for example crocodile meat. Parents' knowledge of preventive medication was inadequate. Understanding common beliefs among parents is beneficial in patient and parental education. (Hong Kong j.emerg.med. 2001;8:202-206)

Keywords : Asthma, belief, knowledge, parents

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