Engaging school programme to reduce high levels of poorly managed asthma in young people

CLAHRC researchers based at Queen Mary University of London launched the My Asthma in School programme this week – an initiative that aims to improve the self-management of the respiratory condition by school children.

Developed by researchers at the University’s Blizard Institute, the programme will use films and apps in educational workshops and theatre performance to improve asthma control and peer support for asthma in London secondary schools.

The programme has been approved and supported by Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, who himself lives with the condition.

He said: “The Greater London Authority and I believe that the ‘My Asthma in School’ programme is likely to promote the necessary education young people require to effectively self-manage their asthma.”

He added: “I encourage all London secondary schools to take part in this programme.”

Asthma affects approximately 1 in 11 children and young people in the UK; and young people with asthma have higher rates of school absences and visits to their doctor or the hospital. According to the data collected for the study, nearly half of young people (aged 11-18 years) with asthma did not have good control over their condition [Harris K et al,J Asthma 2017,54(10):1033-1040].

Dr Gioia Mosler, Outreach and Learning Manager for the ‘My asthma in school project’ (below, left) was at the launch event and said:

The number of deaths from asthma in the UK rank among the highest in the EU. Many of these deaths could be prevented with better self-management.

She added: “We want to improve the ability and motivation of young people to self-manage their asthma so they can take control of their condition.”

The research team’s results showed that young people with asthma often faced many barriers to addressing their condition, including lack of knowledge, or embarrassment to use their asthma inhaler in front of others. Based on these findings, as well as behavioural change theories, the researchers involved young people to develop a series of engaging teaching elements for an intervention, including several games, apps and videos: www.myhealthinschool.org.

The intervention will also deliver an interactive theatre performance, lasting approximately two hours, to help raise awareness of asthma among peers. The performance has been developed with partners at Greenwich and Lewisham Young People’s Theatre [Mosler G et al,Lancet 2017,391(10118):303–304].


Dr Mosler added: “The theatre intervention addresses asthma from a new angle, focusing on peer awareness and support around young people with asthma. The theatre addresses barriers related to a perceived stigma around asthma in peers, young people with asthma reported during our initial data collection.”

My asthma in School is one of the first school-based interventions for asthma self-management in the UK. Similar trials have been undertaken outside the UK, however, given that the health and education systems differ, results from these interventions may not be transferable to a UK setting.

The intervention will be trialled in London during the next few months. Given a positive result of this intervention it could be adopted as a wider programme to improve asthma in young people.

The programme is run as part of the My Health in School initiative based at the Blizard Institute within Queen Mary University of London which aims to improve life and health of young people at school. The team works with Professor Jonathan Grigg, who leads several studies about asthma and lung health in children and young people.

Schools are encouraged to get in touch to join our research –  email: info@myhealthinschool.org.

Website: www.myhealthinschool.org

Twitter: @SchoolsAsthma


Harris, K.; Mosler, G.; Williams S. A.; et al. (2017): Asthma control in London secondary school children. Journal of Asthma; 23: 1–8.

Harris KM, Kneale D, Lasserson TJ, McDonald VM, Grigg J, Thomas J. School-based self-management interventions for asthma in children and adolescents: a mixed methods systematic review. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015;(4)

Mosler G. & Euba T.  (2017): Taking control through drama. Lancet; 391: 10118, p303–304.