Purpose: To evaluate school absence and restriction in school activities of children with asthma, and to estimate the involvement of the school staff in asthma disabilities. Methods: A modified version of the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood written questionnaire was administered to a national sample of 13-14-year-old schoolchildren across Israel. Questions regarding social and demographic factors, school absence owing to asthma symptoms, and school staff involvement were added. Results: There were 10,057 complete questionnaires available for analysis; 710 children reported having asthma. Children with asthma were absent on the average 7.3 ± 9.8 days in the past school year compared with 3.9 ± 6.3 days in children without (p = .0001). Absenteeism owing to respiratory symptoms was significantly more common in children with asthma and associated with a more severe asthmatic condition. Four percent of the children with asthma were absent from school more than 30 days. Of the children reporting asthma, 25.9% were not allowed to participate in one or more school activities for medical reasons, compared with 4.2% of children without asthma. Of the children with asthma, 44.3% reported that the school nurse knew about their asthma, and only 13.8% reported that the nurse discussed their asthmatic condition with them; 38.2% of children with asthma reported that no one at school knew about their illness. Conclusions: Children with asthma are absent annually on average 3.4 days more than children without asthma. School absence is associated with the severity of asthma. A significant percentage of asthmatic children participate less in school activities. School staff awareness of the children illness is not satisfactory.
- School absence
- School staff