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Title: The impact of suboptimal asthma control and adherence to medication on health-related outcomes for children with asthma
Author: Harris, Katherine Marie
ISNI:       0000 0004 7654 0337
Awarding Body: Queen Mary University of London
Current Institution: Queen Mary, University of London
Date of Award: 2018
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Asthma is the most common long-term condition in children in the United Kingdom (UK). Asthma-related hospitalisations and mortality are disproportionally higher in the UK, compared with other European countries, however the reasons for this disparity remain unclear. A putative explanation is that that prevalence of suboptimal asthma control in children in the UK is higher than in continental Europe. If this is indeed correct, then the drivers of suboptimal control, such as poor adherence to therapy resulting from poor understanding of the role of preventer medication (inhaled corticosteroids (ICS)) in UK children would be of significant clinical interest. Therefore, in this thesis, I sought to first identify the levels of asthma control and medication adherence in a non-random sample of London secondary school children. Then, I used focus groups to further highlight the barriers to good medication adherence, and generate insights into potential solutions. To achieve these aims, I developed and implemented an online questionnaire to be delivered in schools, which included the validated Asthma Control Test (ACT). Methods: This thesis is divided into three main sections. The first and second sections include original data from an observational research study, which collected data about asthma control, from 24 London secondary schools between December 2014 and March 2016. The aim of the first section was to assess current levels of asthma control and medication adherence among children with asthma in London secondary schools. Data were collected using an online questionnaire, which included the validated ACT to measure asthma control, as well as additional questions about knowledge, healthcare use, medication use, school attendance, lifestyle and emotion and behaviour, using the validated Me and My School (M&MS) questionnaire. The second section of this thesis includes data generated from six focus groups, conducted in four London secondary schools with 56 students. In order to generate data to inform future interventions, discussions focused on the barriers to medication adherence among teenagers, and how these barriers could be addressed. The third section comprises a systematic review of school-based self-management interventions for children with asthma. The review uses a mixed-methods approach, and includes both quantitative and qualitative study data. A process evaluation is also included, to identify intervention elements that are associated with implementation success. Results: 766 children with asthma from 24 schools were surveyed. Almost half of the students (45.7%; n = 350) had poor asthma control by ACT score. Adherence with asthma medication was low, regardless of asthma control (56.2% self-reported forgetting to use their ICS "preventer" inhaler; 29% self-reported not using their SABA "reliever" inhaler when they needed it, at least some of the time). Health care involvement was relatively high, with at least one unplanned GP visit, due to asthma in the previous four weeks, reported by 28.1% of students; at least one unplanned hospital visit was self-reported by 15.7% of students; and at least one unplanned school nurse visit due to asthma was self-reported by 16% of students. At least one whole school absence was reported by 20.9% of students. Unplanned medical care and school absences were higher among children with poor asthma control, according to the ACT. Themes from focus groups suggested that social stigma, fear of embarrassment, forgetfulness, and incorrect attitudes towards medication were all contributory factors to poor medication adherence. Communications with healthcare professionals were also identified as key unmet needs of teenagers with asthma. The findings from the meta-analyses, included in the systematic review of school-based self-management interventions, showed that such interventions were effective in improving several outcomes, largely related to healthcare use. These included hospitalisations, emergency department (ED) visits, and health-related quality of life. There was no evidence that school-based interventions improved school absences, experiences of day and night time symptoms, or the use of medication. The findings from the analysis of the process evaluation studies showed that a theoretical framework is important in the development of a successful intervention. Conclusions: First, in a large non-random sample of secondary school children with asthma, the proportion of children with suboptimal control is worryingly high, and this is associated with general poor adherence to prescribed therapy asthma. Second, focus groups identified practical and social barriers to good adherence, that should be addressed in future studies. Third, previous studies suggest that school based interventions are effective in reducing incidences of unplanned and urgent healthcare use. The systematic review included studies that included relatively hard-to-reach populations, suggesting that such interventions may be effective across diverse populations, including those considered hard-to-reach. The findings in this thesis informed the development of a school-based self-management intervention, to be piloted in London secondary schools, and an NIHR-funded global research group award on improving asthma control in African children.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Genomics and Child Health ; asthma ; medication adherence ; asthma control