Low exercise among children with asthma: a culture of over protection? A qualitative study of experiences and beliefs

Brian Williams, Gaylor Hoskins, Jannette Pow, Ron Neville, Somnath Mukhopadhyay, Joanne Coyle

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    42 Citations (Scopus)


    BACKGROUND: Research shows that children are insufficiently active in most affluent societies. Although children with asthma may particularly benefit from physical activity, they are less active than their peers. AIM: To explore the reasons for low physical activity levels among children with asthma and to identify strategies to improve activity. DESIGN OF STUDY: A qualitative study using in-depth interviews and focus groups. SETTING: Six GP practices, a Paediatric Respiratory Unit, and four schools in Tayside, Scotland. METHOD: Purposive sampling identified 30 children with asthma, their parents (n = 38) and school staff (n = 28), who were interviewed or took part in focus groups. Data were examined using constant comparative analysis. RESULTS: The lower level of activity among children with asthma was supported by a climate of fear among parents and teachers about what was safe and possible for the child. Restrictions were imposed because of perceived dangers of exercising in the presence of 'triggers'. Physical activity was regarded as a threat to be managed rather than something beneficial. Teachers found it difficult to distinguish between children who were physically incapable of exercise due to asthma and those who were unmotivated. GPs were unknowingly drawn into the controversy by children and parents who cite medical advice to sanction exemption from exercise. CONCLUSION: GPs and asthma nurses need to provide clear management plans explaining what is appropriate and safe in terms of exercise on a child-by-child basis, to counter the considerable misunderstanding and disagreement among children, parents, and teachers
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)e319-e326
    JournalBritish Journal of General Practice
    Issue number577
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


    • Physical activity
    • Asthma


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