The influence of health literacy and self-management on emergency healthcare access for rural asthmatics: A patient's perspective

Alannah Stoneley, Judith Anderson, Clare Sutton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


INTRODUCTION: Asthma is a leading cause of respiratory illness in Australia and has a significant prevalence in rural areas. Literature suggests living in rural areas can act as a barrier to receiving emergency healthcare for asthma exacerbations resulting in the need for further resources and advocacy in educating rural asthmatics about managing their condition and knowing when to access further help. This study aims to explore decision-making in accessing emergency healthcare for people with moderate to severe asthma exacerbations in rural New South Wales (NSW).

METHODS: A qualitative interpretative design involving semi-structured interviews with 12 participants was conducted between May and July 2021. Interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim. Participants were asthmatics who had accessed emergency healthcare for a moderate to severe asthma exacerbation in NSW over the last five years. Data was thematically analysed and grouped into four overarching themes. Due to the depth and range of data this paper will be reporting on two of those themes.

RESULTS: Past experiences as education and the impact of self-management strategies were both shown to be prominent influences that affected decisions on choosing to access emergency healthcare during a moderate to severe asthma exacerbation. Participants shared how their decision-making was shaped by health literacy gained from their past experiences of asthma exacerbations and dealing with emergency healthcare. In addition, self-management strategies were utilised to minimise the need to access emergency healthcare. This was achieved through telehealth appointments, lifestyle changes and non-pharmacological strategies.

CONCLUSION: This study shows that an increase in health promotion activities throughout rural areas can help to reassure people about uncertainties that may be associated with their past experiences and improve health literacy. Additionally, providing tools to allow confident self-management of asthma effectively using evidence-based techniques to prevent it progressing to a moderate or severe exacerbation would also be of benefit.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere50350
Number of pages10
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


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