Objectives: Children from Indian and Pakistani (south Asian) and Black minority groups have relatively high rates of attendance at Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments and admissions to hospital in the UK. We examine parents’ beliefs and management of childhood asthma that may contribute to their greater use of hospital services.
Design: Questionnaire survey.
Setting: Three London hospitals serving multicultural communities with a high proportion of South Asians.
Participants:Parent(s) accompanying 150 children aged 3-9 years with asthma attending asthma clinics and A&E departments.
Main outcome measures: Parents of White, South Asian and ‘other’ ethnic groups were compared with respect to their children’s symptoms and asthma in relation to why their children had developed asthma, use of asthma treatments, views about the prognosis of their children’s asthma, and their feelings associated with stigma.
Results: South Asians more often than Whites stated that they did not give preventers to their children (odds ratio (OR) 0.30; 95% Confidence Interval (CI) 0.12- 0.75) and that most drugs were ‘addictive’ (OR 3.89; 95%CI 1.47-10.27). The South Asians more frequently endorsed the view that medicines could do more harm than good compared to Whites (OR 3.19; 95%CI 1.22-8.34). South Asian and ‘other’ ethnic groups were more reluctant to tell others about their children’s asthma (OR 0.11; 95%CI 0.01-1.06 and OR 0.06; 95%CI 0.01- 0.65 respectively).
Conclusion: Cultural perspectives related to ethnicity are key factors in the understanding of asthma management. Health staff should give high priority to eliciting parents’ beliefs regarding the management of their children’s asthma.