The international school nurse asthma project: Barriers related to asthma management in schools

Erla Kolbrun Svavarsdottir, Ann W. Garwick, Lori S. Anderson, Wendy S. Looman, Ann Seppelt, Brynja Orlygsdottir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Aim: This article is a report of an international study of barriers to asthma care from the perspectives of school nurses in Reykjavik, Iceland and St. Paul, Minnesota, in the context of their schools, communities and countries. Background: Globally, asthma affects the health and school performance of many adolescents. School nurses play a key role by providing care to adolescents with asthma in school settings. Understanding universal barriers to asthma management in schools is important for developing interventions that are effective in multiple societal contexts. Design: Exploratory, descriptive study. Methods: Parallel studies were conducted from September 2008-January 2009, through six focus groups among school nurses (n = 32, in Reykjavik n = 17 and St. Paul n = 15) who were managing asthma in adolescents. Focus groups were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim in English or Icelandic. The Icelandic transcripts were translated into English. Descriptive content analytic techniques were used to systematically identify and categorize types of barriers to asthma care. Results: School nurses in both countries identified common barriers, such as time constraints, communication challenges and school staff barriers. The primary difference was that St. Paul school nurses identified more socio-economic and health access barriers than school nurses in Reykjavik. Conclusion: Greater cultural and linguistic diversity and socio-economic differences in the student population in St. Paul and lack of universal healthcare coverage in the US contributed to school nurses' need to focus more on asthma management than school nurses in Reykjavik, who were able to focus more on asthma prevention and education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1161-1171
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Advanced Nursing
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2013


  • Asthma management by school nurses
  • Barriers to care in school nursing
  • School nurse roles


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