Journal scan

South Asian families report perceived stigma attached to asthma diagnosis

Study finds only one in three South Asian families in London attend an annual asthma review.

Study finds only one in three South Asian families in London attend an annual asthma review

Picture: Alamy

Asthma is a common chronic childhood condition with more than 44,000 hospital admissions a year in the UK.

There are known to be disparities between children of different ethnicities with South Asian children having hospitalisation rates three times higher than children of white ethnicity. 

This qualitative study explored experiences of British South Asian and white British families to develop appropriate interventions.

A purposive sample of families was undertaken in London from across six main South Asian ethno-religious groups as well white British families. Data was collected by semi-structured interviews and analysed.

Many problems reported were common across all groups. There was limited understanding and confusion about the causes and triggers for asthma in all groups. All reported delays in receiving a clear diagnosis.

South Asian families reported perceived stigma attached to the diagnosis unlike the white British families. All reported inconsistent advice, particularly concerning medicines and inhalers from health professionals. South Asian families were more likely to discuss fear of steroids’ wider side effects and desire to reduce dosages.

None had been given an asthma plan for their child.

Only a third of South Asian and two-thirds of white British families reported attending an annual asthma review with a practice nurse. South Asian families were more likely to discuss asthma management with a local pharmacist who spoke their first language.

South Asian families described their use of the emergency department as being linked to difficulties in accessing primary care, and difficulties in assessing the severity of the symptoms.

Lakhanpaul M, Culley L, Robertson N et al (2017) A qualitative study to identify parents' perceptions of and barriers to asthma management in children from South Asian and White British families. BMC Pulmonary Medicine. doi: 10.1186/s12890-017-0464-9

Vari M Drennan is professor of health care & policy research, Kingston University & St George’s University of London


This article is for subscribers only