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Parental attitudes towards the management of asthma in ethnic minorities
  1. Nigel C Smeeton1,
  2. Roberto J Rona2,
  3. Jane Gregory1,
  4. Patrick White3,
  5. Myfanwy Morgan1
  1. 1
    Division of Health and Social Care Research, King’s College London, London, UK
  2. 2
    Division of Asthma, Allergy and Lung Biology, King’s College London, London, UK
  3. 3
    Department of General Practice and Primary Care, King’s College London, London, UK
  1. Nigel C Smeeton, King’s College London, Division of Health and Social Care Research, Capital House, 42 Weston Street, London SE1 3QD, UK; nigel.smeeton{at}


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 possibly contribute to their greater use of hospital services.

Design: Questionnaire survey.

Setting: Three London hospitals serving multicultural communities with a high proportion of South Asian subjects.

Participants: Parent(s) accompanying 150 children aged 3–9 years with asthma attending asthma clinics and A&E departments.

Main outcome measures: White, South Asian and “other” ethnic group parents were compared regarding 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 Asian more often than white parents stated that they did not give preventers to their children (odds ratio (OR) 0.30; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.12 to 0.75), that most drugs were “addictive” (OR 3.89; 95% CI 1.47 to 10.27), and that medicines could do more harm than good (OR 3.19; 95% CI 1.22 to 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 to 1.06 and OR 0.06; 95% CI 0.01 to 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 management of their children’s asthma.

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  • Ethical approval: Ethical approval was obtained from St George’s Hospital Research Ethics Committee and Ealing Hospital Research Ethics Committee.

  • Funding: This study was funded by Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Charity. All the researchers are independent of the source of funding. The funders have not been involved in any decisions regarding the conduct of the study or the dissemination of the findings.

  • Competing interests: None.

  • Abbreviations:
    accident and emergency
    95% CI
    95% confidence interval
    general practitioner
    odds ratio

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