Global impact of asthma on children and adolescents' daily lives: the room to breathe survey

Pediatr Pulmonol. 2012 Apr;47(4):346-57. doi: 10.1002/ppul.21557. Epub 2011 Oct 25.


Objective: To establish children and adolescents' perspectives regarding their asthma and its impact upon their daily lives.

Design: A 14-item questionnaire.

Setting: Canada, Greece, Hungary, The Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and South Africa.

Participants: Children/adolescents (aged 8-15 years) with physician-diagnosed asthma.

Intervention: Interviews were conducted by telephone (Canada, Greece, Hungary, The Netherlands, and the United Kingdom) or face-to-face (South Africa).

Outcome measures: Asthma symptoms, impact on activities, and quality of life.

Results: Of the 943 children/adolescents interviewed, 60% were male. Most (81%) described their asthma as "not too bad" or "I only get it every now and then," with only 4% reporting their asthma as being "very bad"; however, 92% experienced asthma-related coughing and 59% reported nocturnal awakening. Over half (57%) of children/adolescents believed they could predict when their asthma would make them ill; the most common initial symptoms being breathlessness (41%) and bad cough (33%). They considered the worst things about having asthma to be the symptoms of an asthma attack (32%) and not being able to play sport (25%). Almost half (47%) of children/adolescents felt that their asthma affected their ability to play sport or engage in physical activity. One in ten reported they had suffered asthma-related bullying.

Conclusions: Children/adolescents underestimate the severity of their asthma, and overestimate its control, indicating that they expect their illness to be symptomatic. Asthma has a substantial impact on their daily lives, particularly on physical activity and social functioning. Efforts are required to improve asthma control and expectations of health in children/adolescents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living / psychology
  • Adolescent
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Asthma / psychology
  • Child
  • Cough / epidemiology
  • Cough / psychology
  • Dyspnea / epidemiology
  • Dyspnea / physiopathology
  • Dyspnea / psychology
  • Female
  • Health Surveys / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Quality of Life
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sports / physiology
  • Sports / psychology
  • Sports / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires