Adolescents With Asthma: Learning Needs and Internet Use Assessment

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Abstract:

OBJECTIVE: To identify particular learning needs among adolescents with asthma and explore the potential utility of the Internet in addressing adolescents' expressed learning needs. METHODS: In 2004 and 2005, 6 gender-specific and age-specific focus groups were conducted among adolescents, ages 12–18 years, with mild intermittent to severe persistent asthma. Thematic analysis of participants' statements from transcribed group sessions were conducted by the research team, who compared field notes, reviewed focus group transcripts, and validated emerging and final themes. RESULTS: The majority of participants denied previous experience with formal asthma education. Participants reported their limited knowledge of asthma and its management. Health-care providers were recognized as the most credible source of asthma information. Compared to the older adolescents, the younger adolescents expressed stronger motivation to learn about asthma. The participants identified asthma learning needs for others, including peers, teachers, and parents. The importance of socialization, support, and information-sharing with other adolescents with asthma was perceived by participants in all age and gender groups. Participants discussed their Internet use and articulated suggestions regarding potential uses of the Internet to assist in adolescent asthma management. CONCLUSIONS: This study underscores the necessity of an early intervention to take advantage of younger adolescents' greater interest in learning about asthma, and highlights the importance of incorporating peer dynamics in designing interventions for adolescents. Our findings also illustrate the variety of ways that the Internet may be useful in developing a technology-driven intervention for adolescents.

Keywords: ADOLESCENTS; ASTHMA; EDUCATION; FOCUS GROUP; INTERNET; LEARNING

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Family, Community, and Mental Health Systems, University of Virginia, School of Nursing, McLeod Hall, PO Box 800782, Charlottesville VA 22908-0782;, Email: hr3k@virginia.edu 2: University of Tennessee School of Nursing, Knoxville, Tennessee 3: School of Nursing, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland

Publication date: December 1, 2006

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