Understanding influences and decisions of households with children with asthma regarding temperature and humidity in the home in winter: a qualitative study

Publication authors

Tod AM, Nelson P, Cronin de Chavez A, Homer C, Hoyland-Powell V, Stocks AJ


Objectives: This study aimed to understand the influences and decisions of households with children with asthma regarding keeping warm and well at home in winter. Setting: Community settings in Rotherham and Doncaster, South Yorkshire, UK. Participants: Individuals from 35 families and 25 health, education and social care staff underwent interview. 5 group interviews were held, 1 with parents (n=20) and 4 with staff (n=25). Outcome measures: This qualitative study incorporated in-depth, semistructured individual and group interviews, framework analysis and social marketing segmentation techniques. Results: The research identifies a range of psychological and contextual influences on parents that may inadvertently place a child with asthma at risk of cold, damp and worsening health in a home. Parents have to balance a range of factors to manage fluctuating temperatures, damp conditions and mould. Participants were constantly assessing their family’s needs against the resources available to them. Influences, barriers and needs interacted in ways that meant they made ‘trade-offs’ that drove their behaviour regarding the temperature and humidity of the home, including partial self-disconnection from their energy supply. Evidence was also seen of parents lacking knowledge and understanding while working their way through conflicting and confusing information or advice from a range of professionals including health, social care and housing. Pressure on parents was increased when they had to provide help and support for extended family and friends. Conclusions: The findings illustrate how and why a child with asthma may be at risk of a cold home. A ‘trade-off model’ has been developed as an output of the research to explain the competing demands on families. Messages emerge about the importance of tailored advice and information to families vulnerable to cold-related harm.