Impact of Asthma on Children in North America Research Proposal

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¶ … Asthma on Children in North America

Vulnerability of Children to Asthma and its Triggers

Children are incredibly vulnerable to physical stress caused by asthma and the periodic episodes within the context of the disease. The actual physical symptoms of the disease include a restriction of the airways caused by some sort of various stress trigger; "in susceptible individuals inflammatory symptoms are usually associated with widespread but variable airflow obstruction and an increase in airway response to a variety of stimuli," (Iley 2007:25). This then presents itself as a huge vulnerability within the lives of children who tend to exert themselves in physical activity as well as be exposed to various environmental stresses that can potentially bring physical harm to them through an asthmatic episode. Unfortunately, this disease is not going anywhere any time soon. Asthma rates are increasing within the population of the world's youth (Milton et al. 2004). Additionally, children in low-income areas tend to have greater rates of Asthma. Many researchers believe that "this pattern may be greater exposure to indoor allergens experienced by children living in low-income areas," (Milton et al. 2004:712). Inner city children also face more outdoor allergens, especially near large commuter areas which have lots of freeways letting out exhaust.

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Thus, it is important for healthcare professionals and researchers to understand the various stressors, symptoms, and options we have available in order to provide the best strategies for healthcare. By identifying and examining the individual, social, environmental, and political stresses that trigger an asthma attack, professionals can then best make strategic decisions on methodologies of care and help facilitate proper education within parents and other home caregivers.

Research Proposal on Impact of Asthma on Children in North America Assignment

The nature of asthma is very individualized. Its severity, duration, and even triggers are unique within every individual who suffers from it. These factors can vary between individual, social, environmental, and even political factors which then have a major impact of the symptoms of the child with asthma. Some research has even shown differences between the symptoms of children on different genders. According to this research "girls are more likely than boys to incorporate their chronic illness into their social identities and are much more likely than boys to disclose their illness and treat themselves in public settings," (Iley 2007:27). Boys tend to be much more secretive about their individual chronic illnesses, such as asthma. This can then have an affect on how the child is treated and potentially present dangers in more anxiety involved with associating the idea with the self.

There are a number of social elements that have contributing factors to children with asthma. Symptomatic children have long been thought to have suffered academically based on their condition. Although the periods of absenteeism tend to be brief, there are periodic and so have been thought to have adversely affected the child's academic career (Moonie et al. 2008). Some studies have found this conceit to be true, and that absenteeism can modestly increase the correlation between higher absenteeism caused by asthma and lower standardized test scores. This research showed that "persistent asthma experience recurring episodes of absenteeism, this pattern may be contributing to decrease school performance," (Moonie et al. 2008:145).

However, another body of research proposed contrasting findings. Although the study found added absenteeism, there were relatively no correlating aspects between asthma and poor academic performance, (Milton et al. 2004). The study found that although absent rates were higher for children with asthma compared to asymptomatic children, academic performance generally remained equal between the two groups. The 2004 study was also conducted to test if affects of asthma differed based on socio-economic studies (Milton et al. 2004). By testing a population of children, the study examined the impact of asthma on such factors as academic achievement, school attendance, and future professional employment. Milton (2004) also found a slight disadvantage for developing children with asthma later on in their professional careers. Thus, the study finding showed little impact of asthma on a child's social experience other than a slight discrepancy in school attendance. Asthma has an even greater impact on children who are in lower socio-economic statuses. The 2004 study (Milton et al.) also found that children within more deprived areas were affected more by the symptoms of asthma compared to middle class and higher children. These students tended to miss more days of school.

Many children within home care have been known to show additional symptoms tied to environmental stress triggers associated with the home specifically (Navaie-Waliser 2004). These types of triggers are not commonly seen in hospital contexts. Such triggers found within the house have been known to include family stress, physical activity, anxiety, and peer pressure. In many cases, children with home care to treat their asthma symptoms also have a negative reaction to the context of the home. In this community of care, environmental triggers can include a reaction to dust mites, dust, and cigarette smoke, pet dander, and perfumes (Navaie-Waliser 2004). These internal factors are also attributed to higher levels within urban children from low-income families. Some research has also attributed more family stressors within urban children who suffer from asthma, "Urban children with asthma are at an increased risk for experiencing more family stressors due to their exposure to poverty and other urban risks," (Mitchell et al. 2005:380). In fact, urban children in general tend to show an increased risk to all asthma symptoms. This is based of the assumption of additional and constant stressors being more present within low-income families when compared to other socio-economic classes (Nicholas et al. 2005). Thus, urban children are much more vulnerable when it comes to asthma and its symptoms.

There is a stigma to many asthma sufferers that they are weak or constantly ill. This may stem from the need to limit potential external stimulus which would trigger an asthma attack. This means limiting physical activity as well as social factors and is thus taken by other children as a stigma of weakness, (Iley 2007). This then has a serious impact on the self-image of the child. That child may be more prone to an anxious reaction which stems from social tension of being labeled as weak or physically inferior.

Political factors have also been known to influence asthma symptoms within children of various locations and socio-economic statuses. Political machines are responsible for planning out budgets to handle community healthcare programs. Therefore, the level of funding a certain area receives for asthma education and healthcare can have a significant affect on each symptomatic child. With a lack of funding in education, many parents unknowingly create an environment plague with triggers. With a lack of funding in community healthcare initiatives, affordable care for asthma symptoms may not always be readily available.

Asthma does prove to have a significant impact on the health communities which treat such symptomatic children. For example, in the UK, asthma related incidents make up over 14% of children's hospitalizations related to illness (Milton et al. 2004). Asthma also accounts for nearly 5% of children's visitations to their primary doctor's office. Therefore, healthcare organizations must be well funded and ready to deal with increasing numbers of symptomatic children. This is only possible if political influences can provide sufficient funding for proper care. This is in preparation to deal with rising asthma rates. Asthma rates in children are currently increasing all over the world. Between 1990 and 1998, asthma rates in the UK increased from 11% to 19% (Milton et al. 2004).

To respond, healthcare professionals must respond accordingly. According to research, one strategy is to step up parental education, "In keeping with a family-centered model of care to managing childhood asthma during home visits, it is essential that nursing staff focus their efforts more heavily on providing asthma self-management education, targeting foremost parents/family caregivers, and when appropriate, with the children themselves," (Navaie-Waliser 2004:313). Further suggestions include much more tailored methodologies, which include different strategies for children of different ages, with different methods of care for younger and older children (Navaie-Waliser 2004). Traditional in-home treatments have been to minimize the social stresses in the lives of sufferers. However, this "has served to reinforce a historically negative view of children with asthma as weak and fragile," (Iley 2007:26). Therefore educating parents how to deal with this idea can help minimize this stigma. Parent competency is an important security for children with asthma within the context of home care. Higher levels of parent competency can help ensure the best quality healthcare for their children (Maltby et al. 2003). Thus, healthcare professionals need to practice the teaching of parents within the spectrum of the home how best to handle their child during a symptomatic episode. Healthcare professionals must facilitate education of the child's disease with home caregivers, "Understanding the stages of parental competency and the relationship to chronic illness will help health professionals provide the support and information needed by parents," (Maltby et al. 2003:373).

Encouraging particular education and prevention programs in urban areas where children are more susceptible to external stressors (Nicholas… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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