Reducing the effect of asthma on ethnic minority children

Author: Professors Mark Johnson, Lorraine Culley and Dr Monica Lakhanpaul

Date: Apr 2011

Scientists in Leicester are working with a national charity to help provide better support for asthmatic children from ethnic minority backgrounds.

Professors Mark Johnson and Lorraine Culley from the Mary Seacole Research Centre at De Montfort University (DMU) and Dr Monica Lakhanpaul from the University of Leicester and Leicester Community Children’s Services are working with Asthma UK to discover the reasons why children from ethnic minority groups are more likely to have poorly controlled asthma and how this can be improved.

Asthma has a disproportionate effect on children from ethnic minorities. They are less likely to be diagnosed with the condition, but are more likely to suffer with poorly controlled symptoms and to need emergency care.

Research has also shown that families from different ethnic backgrounds tend to use the healthcare systems in different ways, which can affect their knowledge and understanding of asthma and how likely they are to make use of asthma medicine.

The team will undertake a review of the barriers and facilitators to achieving asthma control in children of ethnic minority backgrounds and to inform the development of culturally-appropriate strategies to optimise asthma control specifically in South Asian children.

These strategies will also help health professionals communicate more effectively with families from different ethnic backgrounds.

Professor Johnson said: “The NHS has a strong emphasis on fairness and equity, so we need to address these differences in outcomes. Our findings already have begun to highlight that any strategies developed to support families of children with asthma need to be tailored towards the needs of different ethnic groups and take account of cultural differences.

Dr Lakhanpaul said: “We can only improve the management of asthma for ethnic minority children and their families if we have a better understanding of the barriers that currently exist. This project will provide the evidence to inform the NHS on how to develop its services''

Leanne Metcalf, Director of Research for Asthma UK says, “We know that people from ethnic minority backgrounds are more likely to be admitted to hospital for their asthma than their white counterparts, even though the incidence of asthma in these communities is actually lower than in the white population.

"There is a real need for greater understanding of the health and social issues which impact on asthma treatment within BME communities and we hope that this important research will lead to better health care resources for these communities in the future.

"Asthma UK is committed to providing support for people with asthma from all ethnic backgrounds. We provide a multilingual advice service where callers can discuss their concerns about asthma in 150 languages by speaking to an asthma nurse specialist via an interpreter. This free service is available by calling the Asthma UK Adviceline on 0800 121 62 44."

Professors Mark Johnson and Lorraine Culley from the Mary Seacole Research Centre at De Montfort University (DMU) and Dr Monica Lakhanpaul from the University of Leicester

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Last revised: 27 November 2017

Next review: 27 November 2020