BACKGROUND: Despite strong evidence for using clinical care pathways to manage acute pediatric asthma, adherence remains suboptimal.OBJECTIVES: To elicit information from health care professionals regarding their knowledge, attitudes and use of a care pathway for acute childhood asthma.METHODS: A cross-sectional, self-administered survey of physicians, nurses and respiratory therapists who worked in the emergency department at the Montreal Children’s Hospital (Montreal, Quebec) from August to December 2007 was conducted. The survey assessed knowledge, attitude toward and agreement with the care pathway, as well as its use four years after its implementation.RESULTS: Of the 128 health care professionals surveyed, 72 (56%) responded. Of these, 99% reported being familiar with the pathway, more than 90% agreed with its use for mild and moderate asthma, while 79% agreed with its use for severe asthma. For 99% of health care professionals, the advantages of using the pathway outweighed the disadvantages; however, 64% admitted to making variations to the pathway. Although 92% of respondents reported that they were quite comfortable with using the asthma severity Pediatric Respiratory Assessment Measure, only 53% and 36% correctly identified the severity score cut-offs for moderate and severe asthma, respectively. Seventeen per cent of respondents underestimated the delay of onset of action of oral corticosteroids, while 36% of physicians incorrectly believed that a higher than necessary dose was recommended for ipratropium bromide.CONCLUSIONS: Results of the survey confirmed that the health care professionals queried had a positive attitude toward the pediatric asthma care pathway. Knowledge gaps and the balance between standardization versus individualization of care may be key elements to explain suboptimal adherence to the pathway.