Objective: To explore, in depth, the literature for evidence supporting asthma interventions delivered within primary schools and to identify any "gaps" in this research area.
Methods: A literature search using electronic search engines (i.e. Medline, PubMed, Education Resources Information Center (ERIC), International Pharmaceutical Abstracts (IPA), Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), Embase and Informit) and the search terms "asthma", "asthma intervention" and "school-based asthma education program" (and derivatives of these keywords) was conducted.
Results: Twenty-three articles met the inclusion criteria; of these eight were Randomised Controlled Trials. There was much variety in the type, content, delivery and outcome measures in these 23 studies. The most common intervention type was asthma education delivery. Most studies demonstrated improvement in clinical and humanistic markers, for example, asthma symptoms medication use (decrease in reliever medication use or decrease in the need for rescue oral steroid), inhaler use technique and spacer use competency, lung function and quality of life. Relatively few studies explored the effect of the intervention on academic outcomes. Most studies did not report on the sustainability or cost effectiveness of the intervention tested. Another drawback in the literature was the lack of details about the intervention and inconsistency in instruments selected for measuring outcomes.
Conclusion: School-based asthma interventions regardless of their heterogeneity have positive clinical, humanistic, health economical and academic outcomes.
Keywords: Asthma; asthma education; children; elementary schools; interventions; primary schools; students.