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Respiratory care: Asthma - Module 1 - User Guide

23 June 2010

Asthma - Module 1 - User Guide

user guide | epidemiology | anatomy & physiology | pathophysiology | reflection points | references | answers to 'Test Your Knowledge' questions | partners


Organised and funded by MSD


ASCEND - Asthma Skills, Continued Education and Nurse Development - has been developed by a steering group of primary and secondary care respiratory nurses including nurse representatives from Asthma UK, Education for Health, Primary Care Respiratory Society UK (formerly GPIAG), and Respiratory Education UK, in partnership with and funded by Merck Sharp & Dohme Limited.

To find out more about the Partner Associations - including Asthma UK, Education for Health, PCRS-UK, REUK - please click here.

The ASCEND programme seeks to enhance the foundation of knowledge and skills relevant to nurses working with people with asthma. It is aimed at nurses working in primary care and is positioned at a pre-Asthma Diploma level. However, secondary care nurses and experienced healthcare assistants may also find the programme useful.

Module 1: Asthma epidemiology, anatomy and physiology and pathophysiology, is the first of five modules of the ASCEND Programme. This first module details the respiratory process and pathophysiology of asthma to assist explanations in the clinic. The knowledge gained from this module will also aid understanding of future modules about treatments and how they may work. 

Subsequent modules will include:



Module 2: Asthma: Causes, Triggers and Diagnosis



Module 3: Asthma: Treatment and management



Module 4: Taking Control



Module 5: The Asthma Review



Each module can be read as part of the wider programme or independently in its own right. This module should take approximately one hour to read and work through, however sections can also be used individually as needed.

Module 1 is split into sections with 'learning outcomes' outlined at the start of each section. 'Test your knowledge' questions are available throughout to help ensure a thorough understanding of the subject matter. These questions are for personal use and do not need to be submitted - answers are available at the end of the module. In addition, there are reflection points at the end of the module to assist with self learning. 

The content of each module may be downloaded for personal use and also teaching purposes.

To download a pdf version of ASCEND Module 1 please click here


This module of learning aims to:


  • highlight the incidence and burden of asthma in the UK 
  • review normal anatomy and physiology of respiration and lung function
  • describe current understanding of the disease processes (pathophysiology) involved in the development of asthma
  • highlight the roles played by inflammation, bronchospasm and hyper-responsiveness in causing symptoms of airway obstruction associated with asthma 

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