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Caregivers are not Educated enough about Asthma Management

Update Date: Nov 07, 2014 10:29 AM EST

About 26 million Americans suffer asthma, a respiratory illness that causes the lungs' airways to swell and narrow, which can lead to symptoms such as, chest tightness, coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. Since asthma is a chronic disease, properly managing it could help alleviate symptoms. In a new study, researchers compared asthma health literacy in teens and caregivers, and discovered a discrepancy between the two groups.

"We went into the study thinking that parents or caregivers would be an important source of information for teens with asthma, and that their health literacy scores would more or less align," said allergist and the study's lead author, Jeana Bush, MD, who is a member of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). "What we found was that there was significant disagreement between the two groups, and, that in certain groups, teens had better health literacy, which may mean they are more knowledgeable about controlling asthma than their parents."

Although this study discovered a disagreement between the two groups, the researchers did not examine the factors that could have caused it.

In another study headed by lead author, allergist and ACAAI member, Alexei Gonzalez-Estrada, MD, the researchers analyzed the content of the most popularly viewed asthma videos on YouTube. After combing through 200 of them, the team concluded the videos were not the best sources for educating viewers about asthma management. Instead, the researchers recommend asthmatic people to use websites created by asthma organizations and health-care providers.

"The most commonly viewed video content was on alternative treatments," said Gonzalez-Estrada according to the press release. "Some of the treatments that came up were live-fish ingestion, reflexology, raw food/vegan/gluten-free diets, marijuana and salt therapy, none of which are scientifically proven. Videos by asthma health-care providers were rated the highest in quality, but unfortunately, they were not the most viewed."

Both studies were presented at the ACAAI Annual Scientific Meeting.

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