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PeerJ. 2016 May 5;4:e2006. doi: 10.7717/peerj.2006. eCollection 2016.

A cross-sectional questionnaire study of the rules governing pupils' carriage of inhalers for asthma treatment in secondary schools in North East England.

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1
Health Education North East , Newcastle upon Tyne , United Kingdom.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

The primary objective of this study was to assess the rules governing secondary school pupils' carriage of inhalers for emergency treatment of asthma in the North East of England.

DESIGN:

This study was based upon a postal questionnaire survey.

SETTING:

The setting for this study was mainstream free-to-attend secondary schools which admit 16 year old pupils within the 12 Local Authority areas which make up the North East of England.

PARTICIPANTS:

All 153 schools meeting the inclusion criteria were invited to participate in the study, of which 106 (69%) took part.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

Our three main outcome measures were: whether pupils are permitted to carry inhalers on their person while at school; whether advance permission is required for pupils to carry inhalers, and from whom; and whether the school has an emergency 'standby' salbutamol inhaler for use in asthma emergencies, as permitted since October 2014 under recent amendments to The Human Medicines Regulations 2012.

RESULTS:

Of 98 schools submitting valid responses to the question, 99% (n = 97) permitted pupils to carry inhalers on their person while at school; the remaining school stored pupils' inhalers in a central location within the school. A total of 22% of included schools (n = 22) required parental permission before pupils were permitted to carry inhalers. Of 102 schools submitting valid responses to the question, 44% (n = 45) had purchased a 'standby' salbutamol inhaler for use in asthma emergencies.

CONCLUSIONS:

Most secondary schools in North East England permit pupils to carry inhalers on their person. The requirement in a minority of schools for parental permission to be given possibly contravenes the standard ethical practices in clinical medicine for children of this age. Only a minority of schools hold a 'standby' salbutamol inhaler for use in asthma emergencies. Wider availability may improve outcomes for asthma emergencies occurring in schools.

KEYWORDS:

Asthma; Children; Education; Health policy; Inhalers; Paediatrics; Public health; Respiratory medicine; Salbutamol; Schools

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