Asthmanauts are go!

Dominic Fenn, Thomas McLeod, Malik Fleet, Colette Datt and John Moreiras


Children and young people (CYP) with asthma have a right to have appropriate health care information1. Asthma remains the most prevalent long term childhood disease and the commonest reason for urgent admissions to hospital in England2. Yet the achievable goal of freedom from asthma symptoms is still not being met in many CYPs3. Providing effective asthma education is associated with reduced morbidity & reduced hospitalisations4


  1. To provide an informative and engaging, CYP-friendly, educational resource for asthma. 
  2. To enhance the understanding and knowledge of CYPs with asthma.
  3. To engage parents with a CYP-friendly resource for asthma.

Progress made: What have you learned from doing this?

An educational booklet called Asthmanauts with superhero characters was coproduced with CYPs aged 4-10 years. The child becomes the hero defeating space villains (see picture below) with their inhaler rockets  Captain Blue – salbutamol and Commander Brown – beclomethasone .  Please follow link below for full booklet.

The booklet was trialled in 2 paediatric outpatient asthma clinics. A questionnaire was given to 16 CYPs before and after reading the booklet to assess its impact on their awareness.  Parents were also asked if the booklet enhanced their child’s knowledge and whether they would recommend it. 

What we found:

  • 16 children and their parents participated: 11 males and 5 females; mean age = 6 years old
  • The CYPs showed a 14% increase in understanding of key terms including triggers, reliever and preventer inhalers with the grea
    test impact on trigger understanding.  
  • 87.5% of parents found the booklet enjoyable to read with their children; 
  • Over 90% found it useful in furthering their child’s understanding and would recommend it to other parents of children with asthma.

This pilot study has shown that CYPs engaged with and improved their knowledge of asthma through reading the Asthmanauts resource.  It was commended by health professionals and patients while being engaging and enjoyable.  Below are some quotes from parents after reading the booklet:

“Brilliant to look at with children, often given stuff that goes straight in the draw this would go on kids shelf”

“Great to give names to inhalers – perfect for child and parent interaction”

“My child loved the pictures and references to space. Really informative with out overloading on information for children” 

We are currently in the process of distributing  the booklet. It is now available on line at…

Asthmanauts has been great fun to produce. We hope to have created a booklet that engages children encourages them to learn more about their own condition.  Our results show that Asthmanauts has a potential role in empowering CYPs to better understand and manage their asthma symptoms. 

What’s your take home message?

We hope that Asthmanauts will inspire others to create or modify patient information leaflets that engage and children in their own health care.  Producing a patient information leaflet may appear simple, however, taking an original idea to a finished project has not been without its difficulties and challenges. Here are our ideas to what has helped us make Asthmanauts a success.

  1. Belief in the concept – This may seem obvious, however being passionate about the project gives it drive and incentive to over come obstacles. 
  2. The right team – We were lucky to have help from some excellent people, surrounding yourself with enthused people is not only beneficial for the project but also inspires creativity and can also lead to other projects and ideas (watch this space for future projects)
  3. Involving your audience – Partnering with children has not only been great fun but hugely informative it is they who have ultimately help shape and guide this project and help create Asthmanauts.


(1) Unicef RRSA Standard 17. The Four Standards of the Rights Respecting School Award [Internet]. 2015. [Accessed 26 February 2018]; Available from:

(2) Childhood asthma, Why is it important? NHS England [Internet]. [Accessed 10 October 2017]; Available from: 

(3) Why asthma still kills. The National Review of Asthma Deaths (NRAD) Confidential Enquiry report. [Internet]. 2014 [Accessed 30 October 2017]; Available from:

(4) Coffmann JM, Cabana MD, Halpin HA and Yelin EH. Effects of Asthma Education on Children’s Use of Acute Care Services:  A Meta-analysis. Pediatrics. 2008;121(3):575–86.

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