Canadian Lung Association Blog

Asthma Education: Bridging the Cultural Divide

Kelly Ablog-Morrant and Dr Iraj Poureslami

Most people with asthma say they have their disease under control, but studies suggest that less than half of asthma sufferers actually do.

One of the ways we are trying to increase the number of patients able to effectively manage their asthma is by improving communications with new British Columbians.

BC is home to 16 percent of all immigrants who settle in Canada – many of whom arrive with pre-existing chronic conditions including asthma and who do not have their asthma under control.

“Challenges arise not only because of language barriers – though this is significant – but also because of a lack of trust for the health care system.  This is due partly to cultural beliefs, their previous health care experiences, and also because many are simply unaware of our existing health system and practices,” says BC Lung Association Health Education Director Kelly Ablog-Morrant.

A recent study by carried out by doctors Mark Fitzgerald and Iraj Poureslami and funded in part by the BC Lung Association looked at ways to improve the efficacy of asthma-related communications amongst newcomer communities, in particular Chinese and Punjabi asthma sufferers.

As a result a series of focus groups were held, the goal of which was to develop culturally resonant materials around asthma management.  This approach has so far proven to be very valuable in creating trust with patients and helping them take control of their asthma.

As a result, videos were created featuring members of targeted cultural communities, including doctors with the same ethnic background and produced in their mother tongue. This approach has so far proved to be very valuable in creating trust with patients, and helping them take control of their asthma.

Asthma facts

Asthma is a condition described by doctors as a chronic inflammatory disease of the airway. Symptoms include shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, coughing and wheezing.

Canada has one of the highest asthma rates in the world.

  • Asthma is the leading cause of school absenteeism
  • Asthma is the most common on the job lung disease and a leading cause of lost work time.
  • 1 in 16 British Columbians (300,000) and three million Canadians have asthma.
  • Studies suggest less than half of asthma sufferers manage their condition effectively.

If you have asthma, you have it all the time, even when not experiencing symptoms. Patients who effectively manage their asthma can usually be symptom-free and enjoy a full and active life.

(Photo left to right: Kelly Ablog-Morrant with Dr. Iraj Poureslami)






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