Several educational programmes have been developed for patients with asthma, in order to promote changes in behaviour and to improve health and quality of life. Such programmes are commonly termed "asthma self-management" programmes. First generation self-management programmes started in the early 1980s and were intended to develop the concept of "partnership" between physician, patient and family, and to teach children the skills necessary to manage asthma at home. As a result of participation in these programmes, children experienced a reduction of emergency room and unscheduled physician visits, and an improvement in their physical and social activities. The need to assess the long-term persistence of self-management skills led to the development of second generation programmes. These programmes will pay more attention to the within-subject assessment of acquisition and application of self-management techniques. Crucial issues, such as decision-making strategies and evaluation of quality of life should also have a prominent role.