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Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2001 Mar;86(3):343-7.

Asthma management and perceptions in rural South Africa.

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  • 1The National Asthma Education Programme, Parkview, South Africa.



Many First World countries have endeavored to measure the impact of asthma on individuals with asthma and, in addition to this quality of life evaluation, have attempted to define the quality of care for this common chronic illness.


The primary objective of this research probe was to assist the National Asthma Program in South Africa with the formulation and delivery of its outreach program to rural asthmatic patients.


A discussion/questionnaire document was compiled by Partners in Research from established literature. All interviews were conducted in either the clinics, hospitals, or respondents' homes. Both adult asthmatic patients and parents of pediatric asthmatic patients were interviewed. Interviewing took place at seven rural health clinics across South Africa. Each interview included extensive demographic details, questions on asthma definition, symptoms and symptom triggers, family history, age at diagnosis, frequency of symptoms, and treatment.


Thirty-five adult asthmatic patients and 27 parents of pediatric asthmatic patients were interviewed. Of the adults, 40% reported wheezing at least once a week (despite diagnosis and treatment) and 19% of children reported similar symptom exacerbations. Fifty-one percent of adults and 56% of children were awakened at least once a week by cough or wheeze. Quality of life measurement reflected that, on average, 37% of responders were frightened during an acute asthma attack, and 68% of parents reported fearing the death of their asthmatic children. Fifty-one percent of adults and 33% of children had been hospitalized at least once for asthma. Although respondents claimed regular training in use of inhaler device, only 43% of adults completed each step correctly.


There is a great deal of fear and ignorance surrounding asthma and, therefore, there is a real need for a greater level of patient education even in the rural areas of South Africa. In rural South Africa, attention should be paid to nurses, because they play a greater role than doctors in management and education of asthma.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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