New guidelines aim to reduce asthma disparities in children and adolescents

New Child and Adolescent Asthma Guidelines have published in the New Zealand Medical Journal. The guide has been developed by a multidisciplinary group of respiratory health experts under the leadership of Professor Innes Asher.
“The new guidelines are an important step in reducing disparities and improving outcomes for children with asthma and their whānau,” says David McNamara, Respiratory Paediatrician at Starship Children’s Health.
The guidelines are designed to aid health professionals in delivering asthma care in the community and in emergency departments, providing simple, practical and evidence-based guidance for the diagnosis and treatment of asthma in children and adolescents of 15 years of age and below.
Mr McNamara says, “The guidelines address the biggest challenges in asthma management: patient education, follow-up, motivation and improving adherence. By focusing on these we hope to lift the health
and quality of life of children with asthma and reduce the burden of acute sickness and hospitalisation.”
Prior to this project, New Zealand’s Child and Adolescent Asthma Guidelines had not been updated since 2005, with the old guidelines having a strong ‘medical’ focus. The new guidelines were developed underpinned on eliminating inequalities and variations in asthma
care in New Zealand. By far the highest number of people being admitted to hospital with asthma are Māori, Pacific peoples and people living in the most deprived areas: Māori are 3.4 times and Pacific peoples 3.9 times more likely to be hospitalised than Europeans or other New Zealanders.
The new guidelines also include the ‘bigger picture’ of factors that contribute to child asthma.
“The new guidelines include a focus on workforce, systems and broader determinants that impact on asthma such as income and housing,” says Lorraine Hetaraka-Stevens, Nurse Leader, Networks & Integration at National Hauora Coalition. “They aim to enable
consistent standards of care which can inform a wide range of health professionals working in a variety of settings for example school based nurses and rural health professionals.”
The new guidelines align the latest research with specific information for the New Zealand context and will be used for asthma action plans for patients, as well as training courses and tools for health professionals.