No benefit seen from parental education in managing pediatric asthma

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Education of parents of asthmatic preschoolers and provision of self-management plans prompts no significant reduction in asthma-related healthcare use, according to UK researchers.

Dr. Michael Silverman of the University of Leicester and colleagues note that studies have suggested that education efforts directed at children hospitalized for asthma can reduce subsequent hospitalizations and emergency department visits.

To determine whether such an approach aimed at the parents of asthmatic preschoolers might be similarly helpful, the researchers studied 200 children aged 18 months to 5 years who had sought emergency treatment for acute severe asthma or wheezing. The results appeared in the January issue of Thorax.

The children were randomized to receive usual care or intervention. The parents and children in the intervention group received a booklet on asthma, a written self-management plan and two individual 20-minute sessions with a specialist respiratory nurse.

However, repeated assessment for up to 12 months showed no significant between-group differences in visits to GPs, hospitalizations, emergency department attendance or in asthma medication prescriptions. This was also true of other outcome measures, including parental asthma knowledge.

In light of these findings, the researchers suggest that "further work should seek to clarify the most appropriate advice for the parents of pre-school children with asthma or wheeze."

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