Objective: Asthma is a chronic disease of great prevalence among children and with complex treatment. Health education is considered a very important therapeutic tool, but it has been poorly assessed in our environment. The main objectives of this work were to assess the utility of the education in groups of asthmatic children and parents in order to improve the knowledge about the disease, to raise the profile of the self-management concept and to improve the clinical evolution.
Patients and methods: Sixty-one asthmatic children and their parents were distributed into groups according to the age of the patients (less than 2 years, between 2 and 5 years and more than 5 years) and each group attended 6 theoretical and practical sessions on asthma. Theoretical knowledge about the disease and its management was evaluated by using questionnaires before and after the sessions. The clinical evolution of the children was assessed for a period of two years, from the year before the training started until 1 year after it ended.
Results: Theoretical knowledge about the disease clearly improved both in children (p = 0.2) and their tutors (p < 0.00001). The yearly number of crises and hospitalizations were not reduced by the training; however, the number of visits to the outpatient clinic significantly decreased (p < 0.001). Patients started using the flow-meter (p < 0.001) and started proper treatment (p < 0.00001) more frequently after attending the group session.
Conclusions: Group health education for asthmatic children improves both the knowledge and the self-management of the disease by the patients and their parents, but does not modify the clinical evolution.