Preventing Childhood Asthma: Putting Evidence into Action
In 2018, researchers at the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) launched Preventing Childhood Asthma, a comprehensive research project on the causes of childhood asthma. Asthma is the most prevalent chronic childhood condition with more than 35,000 children aged 1 to 9 living with chronic asthma in BC, and it accounts for more hospitalizations than any other chronic illness and is the leading cause of school absences. According to Asthma Canada’s 2021 Annual Asthma Survey Report, “It is estimated that nearly 300 Canadians are diagnosed with asthma every day, and every year, four families lose a loved one to a fatal asthma attack.”
Evidence from the Preventing Childhood Asthma research project shows that declining antibiotics use in infants is linked with falling childhood asthma rates. After piloting their research in a sample of children in British Columbia (in collaboration with the CHILD study), the BCCDC team is now working to confirm observations from their published studies in retrospective birth cohorts across the whole of British Columbia and Manitoba, with final results expected in the coming months.
Knowledge Translation Activities (KT)
The research team’s current priority is to share these research findings with key stakeholders through the Preventing Childhood Asthma: Putting Evidence into Action knowledge translation project. Knowledge translation (KT) includes activities and strategies that transfer research into public policy and community action, and is critical to seeing research impact real-world outcomes.
Through Preventing Childhood Asthma: Putting Evidence into Action, researchers will share information about the link between asthma and unnecessary antibiotic usage with stakeholders such as researchers, policymakers, physicians, and families, to bring about more prudent antibiotic use which will be the critical step in making a difference.
The BCCDC Foundation for Public Health has been fundraising for these KT activities. KT is a vital but often under-funded component of research projects. Without it, important research findings cannot be shared or communicated to key stakeholders who can change policy, or physicians and families who can make important changes in their behaviours that can help them to lead better, healthier lives.
Impacts of this Project
The short-term benefits of this project will be to improve the case for investment in antibiotic stewardship programs across Canada and worldwide, and to empower parents to discuss unnecessary antibiotic use with their child’s healthcare provider.
By using a multi-pronged approach to target multiple stakeholder audiences, and by seeking the input of knowledge users (i.e., pregnant people and parents of young children) to co-design public awareness materials, this greatly improves the sustainability and long-term impact of this project.
With this approach, over time, we will see a drop in antibiotic use resulting in fewer children suffering from asthma—which will alleviate burden on the healthcare system and will ensure that families receive the support they need so that they can lead more productive and healthy lives.
We would like to express our gratitude to the many donors who supported this project.
This is the benefit of investing in prevention and public health: it is proactive rather than reactive, and by focusing upstream on root causes, we collectively save time, resources, advance equity, and better protect community health and resiliency.