A new programme commissioned by the Asthma Society of Ireland has been successfully piloted that will potentially affect the lives of young people with asthma. The project which was supported by Dyson, originated from a PhD conducted in University College Cork on asthma in young people, which highlighted the need for a teen-focused approach to supporting young people who have asthma in their everyday lives.
In the report, most young people surveyed said they were less like to manage their asthma outside of the home, saying that their friends didn’t understand the condition or the management of it. This has then resulted in teenagers hiding their symptoms or taking risks when they feel unwell in order to avoid unwanted attention.
Those involved in the report also said they don’t trust on-line information, as they didn’t know where to get credible and accurate information.
In response to the findings, the Asthma Society of Ireland worked with researcher Mary Hughes on developing an innovative on-line programme for secondary school students. Unlike traditional educational programmes for young people who have asthma, this programme is aimed at increasing the awareness of the general student population in order to support those among them who have asthma.
It is envisaged that this programme will empower young people in this age group in improving their asthma management and potentially reduce the overall GP visits and hospital admissions as a result of the condition. The programme has a focus on issues that are highlighted as being particularly relevant by those who participated in the doctoral research, in addition to some fundamental issues of symptom management.
The Asthma Society of Ireland are now launching the findings of the pilot of this Transition Year Asthma E-learning Programme that took place earlier this year. rolled out in Kinsale Community School, Cork.
The four-module interactive E-learning programme informed students on the management of asthma at home, at school, if engaging in sports and hobbies, and also in response to environmental triggers. Students were also provided with information and advice on medication use, spotting the signs and symptoms of the condition and what to do if they, or one of their peers had an exacerbation of their symptoms.
On completion of the programme, students knowledge and understanding of asthma was assessed, with the results demonstrating an increase of 33% increase after taking the programme.
Speaking about the pilot programme, the developer of the project Mary Hughes (Research and Education Officer for the Asthma Society of Ireland) commented; “The introduction of the Pilot Asthma E-learning Programme in Kinsale Community School has been a hugely successful initiative for the Asthma Society of Ireland and the pupils who took part. The key learning was that peer acceptance and understanding of asthma will make it easier for them to live with this condition”.
“The programme provides young people with practical information that is available to them from a freely available, reliable source. In addition to this they learn how to access the Asthma Society of Ireland on-line and use the Asthma Coach App to help them in their everyday lives”.
“I would like to thank the pilot scheme sponsors Dyson for helping us to make this programme happen and we strive to roll this programme out across secondary schools nationwide in 2014 – to encourage more young people to learn about the condition and support those with asthma to improve their control.”
Following the success of the pilot, the Asthma Society of Ireland is hoping to roll out their E-learning programme nationwide in 2014.