Global impact of asthma on children and adolescents' daily lives: The room to breathe survey


  • Financial Disclosure/Conflict of Interest Statement: Johannes Wildhaber and Paul L.P. Brand have received fees for performing research, giving presentations, and consultancy from GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca, Merck, and Nycomed. William D. Carroll has received fees for performing research, giving presentations, and consultancy from GlaxoSmithKline, Merck Sharp & Dohme, Novartis, Teva, and Nycomed. He has received sponsorship and support to attend respiratory meetings from GlaxoSmithKline, ALK-Abelló, Merck Sharp & Dohme, and Nycomed.



To establish children and adolescents' perspectives regarding their asthma and its impact upon their daily lives.


A 14-item questionnaire.


Canada, Greece, Hungary, The Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and South Africa.


Children/adolescents (aged 8–15 years) with physician-diagnosed asthma.


Interviews were conducted by telephone (Canada, Greece, Hungary, The Netherlands, and the United Kingdom) or face-to-face (South Africa).

Outcome Measures

Asthma symptoms, impact on activities, and quality of life.


Of the 943 children/adolescents interviewed, 60% were male. Most (81%) described their asthma as “not too bad” or “I only get it every now and then,” with only 4% reporting their asthma as being “very bad”; however, 92% experienced asthma-related coughing and 59% reported nocturnal awakening. Over half (57%) of children/adolescents believed they could predict when their asthma would make them ill; the most common initial symptoms being breathlessness (41%) and bad cough (33%). They considered the worst things about having asthma to be the symptoms of an asthma attack (32%) and not being able to play sport (25%). Almost half (47%) of children/adolescents felt that their asthma affected their ability to play sport or engage in physical activity. One in ten reported they had suffered asthma-related bullying.


Children/adolescents underestimate the severity of their asthma, and overestimate its control, indicating that they expect their illness to be symptomatic. Asthma has a substantial impact on their daily lives, particularly on physical activity and social functioning. Efforts are required to improve asthma control and expectations of health in children/adolescents. Pediatr Pulmonol. 2012; 47:346–357. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.