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Communications to the Editor |

Knowledge and Beliefs of Samples of the General Population About Asthma FREE TO VIEW

Denis Charpin, MD; Myriam Ramadour, MS; André Lanteaume, MS; Daniel Vervloet, MD
Author and Funding Information

Hôpital Nord Marseille, France Bako Ravalison, MD Hôpital de Sainte-Marguerite Marseille, France

Correspondence to: Denis Charpin, MD, Service de pneumologie-allergologie, Hôpital Nord, 13915 Marseille Cedex 20, France; e-mail: dcharpin@ap-hm.fr



Chest. 2000;117(1):292-294. doi:10.1378/chest.117.1.292-a
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To the Editor:

Asthmatic teenagers belong to a high-risk population, mainly because they usually have a low level of therapeutic compliance.1Many case-control studies have exemplified personal characteristics that could be responsible for this behavior.23 In this context, it seems useful to know better the beliefs of teenagers about asthma compared to other acute and chronic diseases.

This survey was performed in the framework of the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC). In the Marseille area, 12 secondary schools (165 classes) were randomly selected, consisting of 4,186 teenagers. Of these, 3,495 (83.5%) agreed to participate to the study. After they had completed the standard ISAAC questionnaire in class, teenagers were asked to complete a questionnaire concerning their beliefs about six diseases: asthma, cancer, tuberculosis, influenza, the common cold, and chicken pox. Teenagers had to provide a grade between 1 (not at all) and 10 (very much) for rating the disease on the following attributes: severe, contagious, hereditary, patient is responsible for it, bashful, well-known, unusual, curable, disgusting, disabling in everyday life, and annoying for other people. The response rate was fair, between 68.5% and 81.4% according to the disease, except for questions on tuberculosis, which were answered by only 35% of the study group.

Figure 1 provides the average (± SD) rating for asthma. Asthma is seen as a rather common, severe, well-known, and hereditary disease, which are attributes that fit well with the disease. Boys (49.6% of the study population) had a significantly more optimistic view about asthma: less severe disease, greater probability of cure, and less impact on everyday life. There was no difference in rating according to age, which ranged between 12 and 15 years, and according to socioeconomic status. Asthmatic children see the disease as more hereditary but, paradoxically, are more optimistic about the possibility of a cure. Figure 2 shows how asthma compares to other diseases with regard to beliefs and knowledge. Teenagers’ responses about these diseases also fit with general opinion.

No survey has been devoted to this topic in the international literature. In 1992, we performed a street survey among 800 individuals visiting a public exhibition in Marseille.4 These visitors, who were mainly young and middle-aged adults, were asked to complete a short questionnaire dealing with their beliefs about asthma. Respondents stated that asthma is a common, severe, and long-lasting disease.

In conclusion, this survey demonstrates that knowledge of and beliefs about asthma in a large group of teenagers are fair. There are no major mistakes or misapprehensions in their knowledge and beliefs about the disease. Thus, health education is unlikely to have a major impact on asthma management in teenagers.

Figure Jump LinkFigure 1. Figure 1. Shows beliefs of teenagers about asthma graded (mean ± SD) on a scale of 1 (not at all) to 10 (very much).Grahic Jump Location

Figure Jump LinkFigure 2. Figure 2. Shows beliefs about asthma compared to other diseases graded (mean ± SD) on a scale of 1 to 10. Total score equals 50 because each gradation runs from 1 to 10.Grahic Jump Location

References

Birkhead, G, Attaway, NJ, Strunk, RC, et al (1989) Investigation of a cluster of deaths of adolescents from asthma: evidence implicating inadequate treatment and poor patient adherence with medications.J Allergy Clin Immunol84,484-491
 
Strunk, RC Identification of the fatality-prone subject with asthma.J Allergy Clin Immunol1989;83,477-485
 
Campbell, DA, Yellowlees, PM, McLennan, G, et al Psychiatric and medical features of near fatal asthma.Thorax1995;50,254-259
 
Lanteaume-Vaillant, A, Lanteaume, N, Kleisbauer, JP, et al Les maladies respiratoires vues par les visiteurs de la Foire Internationale de Marseille en Septembre 1990.Respirer1991;78,5-6
 

Figures

Figure Jump LinkFigure 1. Figure 1. Shows beliefs of teenagers about asthma graded (mean ± SD) on a scale of 1 (not at all) to 10 (very much).Grahic Jump Location
Figure Jump LinkFigure 2. Figure 2. Shows beliefs about asthma compared to other diseases graded (mean ± SD) on a scale of 1 to 10. Total score equals 50 because each gradation runs from 1 to 10.Grahic Jump Location

Tables

References

Birkhead, G, Attaway, NJ, Strunk, RC, et al (1989) Investigation of a cluster of deaths of adolescents from asthma: evidence implicating inadequate treatment and poor patient adherence with medications.J Allergy Clin Immunol84,484-491
 
Strunk, RC Identification of the fatality-prone subject with asthma.J Allergy Clin Immunol1989;83,477-485
 
Campbell, DA, Yellowlees, PM, McLennan, G, et al Psychiatric and medical features of near fatal asthma.Thorax1995;50,254-259
 
Lanteaume-Vaillant, A, Lanteaume, N, Kleisbauer, JP, et al Les maladies respiratoires vues par les visiteurs de la Foire Internationale de Marseille en Septembre 1990.Respirer1991;78,5-6
 
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