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Understanding of Asthma in Adolescent Girls

N.M. Clark, PhD1, J.A. Dodge, MS1, S. Shah, MD2, M.A. Valerio, PhD1,
D.F. Awad, MA1, and L.J. Thomas, MPH1
1 Center for Managing Chronic Disease, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States and 2 Westmead Hospital, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


Adolescence is an important age for girls with asthma. Likely related to
WITH ASTHMA AND THOSE WITHOUT Responses to 7 asthma knowledge items indicated that at baseline
hormonal changes, asthma begins to shift at adolescence from favoring girls with asthma had slightly but not significantly more accurate
boys to favoring girls. Further, the knowledge and views of adolescent KNOWLEDGE ITEMS: Without Asthma Diagnosis (n=148) With Asthma Diagnosis (n=42) responses on all items compared to those without asthma. On 5 of the
Strongly Disagree No Agree Strongly St.Dis. Dis. No Agree St.Ag.
girls without asthma has been discussed as influential on the Disagree (%) Opinion (%) Agree (%) (%) (%) Op. (%) (%) 7 items, approximately half of the sample provided correct responses
(%) (%) (%)
management actions of those with asthma. This study examined the at baseline.
Without air people only live a few 6.9 7.6 9 35.4 41 4.9 2.4 0 34.1 58.5
understanding of asthma in 190 girls (13-14 years old) in 6 middle minutes
schools in Detroit, Michigan. 52.4 24.1 13.1 8.3 2.1 51.2 32 9.8 4.9 2.4 Following the peer asthma training, significant gains in knowledge
The best thing to do when someone
is having trouble breathing is to
were reported related to asthma seriousness (p=.005), asthma triggers
METHODOLOGY slap him on the back (p=.003), and perceptions regarding the normalcy of students with
I think kids with asthma are just like 5.5 7.6 11.7 27.6 47.6 7.3 12 7.3 22 51.2
anyone else asthma (p=.03).
A clinical trial investigated the effectiveness of two interventions with 3.4 2.1 3.4 33.1 57.9 7.3 0 4.9 26.8 61
Sometimes kids with asthma need
1293 students, ages 10-13, identified with asthma in 19 middle schools a break from running too much
in the city of Detroit, Michigan. The population within the Detroit middle Kids who laugh when someone is 16.7 6.9 29.2 18.8 28.5 14.6 9.8 32 9.8 34.1
wheezing or having trouble
schools is 94% African American with greater than 70% of the students
qualifying for the federal reduced/free lunch program.
breathing are stupid
One of the most common triggers 7.6 3.5 2.8 37.5 48.6 0 2.4 2.4 29.3 65.9
for kids with asthma is cigarette
One of the two interventions included a peer education component. Having an asthma attack is no big
81.3 6.9 1.4 2.8 7.6 78 4.9 2.4 7.3 7.3 Baseline asthma knowledge in this convenience sample of young
For the study presented here, 190 girls from the 19 schools comprised adolescent girls was not sufficient to understand the challenges faced by
a convenience sample of female adolescents who volunteered to their friends with the condition or to help them manage their own disease.
participate as peer leaders in the peer education program. Data were
PRE AND POST DIFFERENCES ON Brief training can significantly increase asthma knowledge. No data were
collected at the beginning of a training workshop for the volunteer peer KNOWLEDGE QUESTIONS available to assess subsequent behavior.
leaders and again at the completion of the two-day training session.
Paired sample t-tests for differences per
The Peer Leader pre and post test was self administered. The item - Pre test versus Post test
questionnaire captured asthma attitudes and knowledge. Twenty two Paired Differences
Mean Standard Std. Erro t df Sig (2
percent of the 190 girls reported ever having received a diagnosis of
asthma, 57% stated that their grades were mostly B's and 100%
Deviation Mean tailed)
planned to complete high school. Without air people only live a few minutes 0.39 1.681 0.138 2.837 147 0.005
The best thing to do when someone is -0.22 1.437 0.118 -1.89 147 0.061
having trouble breathing is to slap him on
As peer influence is important in adolescence and asthma becomes more
the back prevalent in girls than boys at this time of life, adolescent females may
I think kids with asthma are just like anyone 0.3 1.598 0.132 2.271 146 0.025 comprise an important target for asthma education. As the knowledge
Sometimes kids with asthma need a break level of girls with asthma may be no different from those without, special
-0.01 1.269 0.105 -0.07 146 0.948
Seven asthma knowledge statements were presented using a 5 point
from running too much attention should be paid to adolescent females with the condition. As brief
-0.07 2.067 0.171 -0.4 145 0.689 training may increase the asthma knowledge of both groups, brief school-
Likert response scale: Strongly Disagree (1), Disagree (2), No Opinion Kids who laugh when someone is wheezing
(3), Agree (4) and Strongly Agree (5). The 7 item index yielded a or having trouble breathing are stupid based programs may be beneficial. Since no behavioral data describe
Cronbach's alpha statistic of 0.32. These items alternate from positive
One of the most common triggers for kids 0.3 1.244 0.102 2.975 147 0.003 actions of girls on behalf of their peers with asthma, a study is warranted.
with asthma is cigarette smoke
to negative answers and had not previously been validated for use with Having an asthma attack is no big deal 0.03 1.62 0.133 0.203 147 0.839
this population.

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