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“What Bugs Me”: children’s lived experience of asthma


Children learn to adapt to asthma symptoms. Usual questions focused on clinical signs (eg., have you wheezed or used your blue puffer today?) can lead to the assumption that asthma is well controlled and has little impact on daily life. More focused queries can lead to better information about asthma control. Parents may not be aware of the impact of asthma on their child.


Educators at the Children’s Asthma Education Centre sought ways to help children express the impact of asthma on their daily life, and to improve insight into children’s lived experience of asthma.


The “What Bugs Me” questionnaire was developed using lived experiences frequently expressed by children with asthma. We began a pilot study with children age 7-11 years attending a Family Asthma Program and subsequently studied both children and parents. Parents and children completed the questionnaire separately and shared their findings at the end of the session.


Table 1

Surprisingly, 45% of children but only 16% of parents noted they worry about dying (p = 0.014). Fewer children (60% vs 84% parents, p = 0.045) noted nocturnal cough as a problem. More children (52% vs 28% parents, p = 0.058) noted they “couldn’t run”.


There were significant disconnects between children and their parents. Asthma Educators and clinicians should direct questions related to the lived experience of asthma to the child. Focused questions can help parents and educators gain insight into the impact of asthma of the child’s social and emotional well being in order to address issues of importance.

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Correspondence to Lesley Stewart.

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Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( ), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Filuk, S., Gillespie, C., Kulbaba, B. et al. “What Bugs Me”: children’s lived experience of asthma. All Asth Clin Immun 8 (Suppl 1), A1 (2012).

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  • Public Health
  • Asthma
  • Pilot Study
  • Clinical Sign
  • Asthma Control