Student Pharmacists Improve Children's Asthma Education

February 13, 2015
Meghan Ross, Associate Editor

Student pharmacist-delivered education can have a positive impact on asthma knowledge among children.

Student pharmacist-delivered education can have a positive impact on asthma knowledge among children, according to a recent study published in the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education.

The researchers studied the effects of a student pharmacist-implemented plan for teaching asthma self-management to children and their caregivers during a series of 6 asthma camps. Duquesne University student pharmacists implemented and developed the lesson plans, and then performed asthma screening assessments at the free day camps.

Previous research has examined how student pharmacists fare when delivering screenings or educating adults on diseases, but this was the first study to examine how effective they could be in teaching children about asthma.

The 87 children studied were aged between 5 and 17 years, and their caregivers were also included. While the children’s asthma knowledge greatly increased following the education intervention, the caregivers’ knowledge did not. However, the study authors pointed out that some of the caregivers socialized during the educational activities.

Another finding of the study was that caregivers’ asthma knowledge strongly correlates with better asthma control among their children.

While previous research has shown that self-management programs for kids with asthma can lead to better lung function, plus fewer missed school days and emergency room visits, only 12% of those with asthma received formal patient education in 2008, the study highlighted.

The Duquesne students’ education interventions addressed 4 key topics: avoiding asthma triggers, complying with medications, using inhalers properly, and having an asthma action plan. The pharmacy students used interactive skits, memory games, and game shows to engage the children in learning.

Due to time constraints, some pediatricians may not be able to provide formal asthma education, so pharmacists can step in to help teach children how to manage their asthma, the study suggested.

However, the authors pinpointed some obstacles that pharmacists may have to overcome. Space restraints, attitudes toward pharmacists as asthma educators, or limited knowledge about asthma management may be issues for some pharmacists.

“Methods to overcome these obstacles need to be explored so that interventions provided by pharmacists become recommended instead of only considered,” the study authors posited.