How Cultural Beliefs Affect Parents' Views Of Children's Asthma, Treatment

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Parents' cultural beliefs influence how they view their children's asthma and its treatment, according to a U.K. study published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, Reuters Health reports. The study looked at a survey of the parents of 150 children treated at asthma clinics in London. Of the survey population, 41 parents had a South Asian background, 42 were from other ethnic groups including black Caribbean and black African, while the remainder of parents were white.

Previous research in the U.K. has shown that black and South Asian children are more likely than white children to visit the emergency department or be hospitalized for severe asthma attacks. According to Reuters Health, there are similar disparities in other countries, such as the U.S.

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The study found that:

  • South Asian parents were less likely than white parents to give their children treatment for asthma;
  • South Asian parents also were more likely to believe that asthma medications are addictive and could do "more harm than good";
  • Both South Asian and black parents were more reluctant than white parents to tell friends and family about their child's asthma, a finding that suggests some parents might feel a social stigma attached to asthma;
  • South Asian parents were more likely to believe their child's asthma would "get better"; and
  • Other minority parents were more likely than whites to believe that their child's asthma was out of their control and that "faith was more important."

The study researchers said that doctors should be aware of the cultural beliefs some have about asthma and its treatment. Lead researcher Nigel Smeeton of King's College London and colleagues developed a pamphlet explaining asthma treatment for doctors to give to parents. The pamphlet is available in Punjabi(Norton, Reuters Health, 12/7).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org.

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