Asthma is a major public health problem in Australia. With up to 1 in 4 children and adolescents having symptoms of asthma, there is a high toll not only on the individual with asthma and their care-givers but also on the health care delivery system. Adolescents with asthma are particularly vulnerable to serious asthma attacks and sudden death. For many adolescents, this is a particularly risky period, as compliance with therapy may decrease and medical supervision becomes less consistent. As behaviours and life style are primary contributers to morbidity and mortality in adolescents, education appears to be a potential way to have an impact on behaviour change. The challenge is to develop a program which will not only have a considerable impact, but is acceptable and relevant to the school community. This treatise examines the relevant literature and psychosocial theories and models applicable to asthma health promotion and management in adolescents. It provides a health promotion model for addressing barriers to optimum asthma management and an Intervention Model to increase knowledge and improve behaviour in high school students.
The aims of this treatise are: to establish the impact of asthma on high school students; to justify asthma health promotion in high schools; to identify behavioural and psychosocial factors relevant to adolescents
asthma management; to describe an asthma health promotion intervention in a girls high
school, based on the conceptual model. The Adolescent Asthma Action Program is an innovative asthma health promotion intervention program for high schools. The aim of the program is to promote optimum management of asthma through peer-led education and creative student presentations. Students are active in both learning and teaching and are the catalysts for behaviour change and supportive school environment. The Program is undertaken in a socially disadvantaged area, where a significant proportion of high school students come from non-English speaking backgrounds (NESS). A common health issue in the school is addressed through positive peer
modelling and social reinforcement. The models can also be applied to other health issues and have potential for a wide range of applications in schools.