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Canadian Respiratory Journal
Volume 6 (1999), Issue 5, Pages 417-422
Original Article

What Do Nurses and Residents Know about Childhood Asthma?

Jean-François Lemay,1 Sean I Moore,2 Michele Zegray,3 and Francine M Ducharme4

1Department of Pediatrics, The Montreal Children’s Hospital, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
2Department of Community Health, McGill University Faculty of Medicine, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
3Department of Nursing, The Montreal Children’s Hospital, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
4Departments of Pediatrics and of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, McGill University Faculty of Medicine, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Copyright © 1999 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


OBJECTIVES: To assess residents’ and pediatric nurses’ basic knowledge of childhood asthma and to identify areas needing educational reinforcement.

DESIGN: Survey using a validated self-administered questionnaire containing 25 true-false and six short open-ended questions.

PARTICIPANTS: Pediatric residents and family medicine residents who were on rotation at a tertiary care pediatric hospital over a six-month period, and pediatric nurses on duty in the emergency department, on the wards and on the pediatric intensive care unit over a month period.

RESULTS: The participation rate was 80% (28 of 35) of pediatric residents, 89% (33 of 37) of family medicine residents, and 50% (81 of 163) of pediatric nurses. The mean score (± standard deviation) on the 31-point questionnaire was 27.7±1.8 for pediatric residents, 25.5±3.6 for family medicine residents, and 22.3±3.8 for pediatric nurses (ANOVA, P<0.001). Most (at least 75%) participants correctly identified bronchospasm and airway inflammation as two potential mechanisms of asthma and were able to list three routinely used drugs to treat exacerbations. However, 32% of pediatric residents, 12% of family medicine residents and 72% of pediatric nurses failed to identify all three main symptoms of asthma (wheezing, cough, dyspnea). Although most participants recognized that children with frequent exacerbations should receive prophylactic therapy, 25% of pediatric residents, 52% of family medicine residents and 81% of pediatric nurses were unable to name at least two preventive asthma medications. More than 50% of participants could not name two drugs used in the prevention of exercise-induced asthma.

CONCLUSIONS: Residents and nurses had adequate basic knowledge of the treatment of acute exacerbations. However, most individuals needed reinforcement in preventive asthma therapy and daily management.