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There are currently over 5 million people with asthma in the UK, and asthma attacks result in the hospitalisation of a sufferer every 7 minutes (Asthma UK, 2013). Asthma constitutes both a national and global health challenge, and international research suggests that poor asthma self-care is responsible for exacerbating asthma symptoms, contributing to asthma attacks and also to deaths from asthma and asthma-related conditions (Global Initiative for Asthma, 2009; Denford et al., 2013).  Within the asthma population, exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB) is found in about 80-90% of asthmatics (McArdle et al., 2007).  Exercise and some forms of physical activity can thus pose a problem (Allen-Collinson & Owton, 2012), given that the majority of asthmatics are susceptible to EIB (Pedersen & Saltin, 2006).  The situation is complicated, however, as moderate to intense physical activity tends to provoke bronchoconstriction in asthmatics, whilst regular exercise generates physical and psychosocial benefits and is considered important in asthma rehabilitation (McArdle et al., 2007).  Despite its reported prevalence, and with some exceptions (e.g. Tiihonen, 1994; Allen-Collinson & Owton, 2012), there is a distinct dearth of qualitative literature on the lived experience of asthma amongst sports participants and particularly amongst ‘serious’ exercisers.


AIM: to undertake an exploratory, phenomenological investigation into sportspeople and serious exercisers’ lived experience of asthma and asthma self-care



  1. To identify factors influencing participants’ adherence to asthma treatments and self-care prescribed by healthcare professionals.

  2. To analyse and understand how the lived experience of asthma might impact upon individuals’ engagement with prescribed asthma treatments and self-care.

  3. To enhance GPs’ and other healthcare professionals’ understanding of the lived experience of asthma from the perspective of patients, so as to promote the provision of more targeted and appropriate treatments and self-care plans.

  4. To contribute knowledge to help improve the health and wellbeing of asthma sufferers.


The research will be undertaken via in-depth interviews with 30-35 non-elite sportspeople/serious exercisers with asthma, together with a focus group comprised of 4-5 GPs, asthma nurses and other health professionals involved in the provision of asthma care and treatment. This part of the project is in collaboration with De Montfort University where participants will be involved from the DMU Square Mile area.


The research is novel in addressing an existing gap in the research literature relating to chronic illness and sport/exercise (an under-researched area currently), via a specific theoretical perspective of social phenomenology.


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