Male adolescents’ perceptions of how they interpret and manage their asthma symptoms
Thesis DisciplineHealth Sciences
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Health Sciences
Asthma is a chronic condition affecting approximately 235 million people worldwide, yet international studies have identified that most adolescents with asthma have poor self-management skills. Asthma is common in adolescent males however only a few studies have specifically investigated the asthma experiences of this population group. The aim of this study was to explore how male adolescents understand and manage their asthma symptoms. A qualitative descriptive study design was selected to investigate the experiences of male adolescents, focusing on their perceptions of societal and masculine influences on their asthma management. Individual semi-structured interviews were undertaken with 15 male adolescents to capture data about their perceptions of masculinity, asthma management, interpersonal relationships, and their physical wellbeing. Findings support previous research illustrating that asthma restricts adolescent male’s lives, both at school and recreationally. This study established that these restrictions could unpredictably affect perceived masculine ideals and their ability to be independent, strong, muscular, and competitive. Consequently, the majority of participants felt their masculinity was challenged and described feeling different, isolated, and/or marginalised from their non-asthmatic peers. To counteract these feelings, maintain control, and seek normality in front of peers, most participants reported downplaying their asthma symptoms and/or did not adhere to their prescribed treatment regimes. In addition, hegemonic representations of males as ‘tough’ and ‘self-reliant’ influenced most participants to describe re-active, non-help seeking behaviours, and minimisation of their asthma symptoms. However not all participants described adverse outcomes, with a minority resisting hegemonic ideals by taking care of their health and asthma management. Findings illustrate how a variety of masculine ideals influenced young men’s health and asthma management. Further research is required to investigate the ways differential masculine ideals may be protective or detrimental to asthma medication.