NIHR Global Health Research Unit on Respiratory Health (RESPIRE)

Hani Salim

Project: Developing and piloting an ICT-based intervention for adult asthma with limited health literacy to improve asthma self-management

PhD overview

  • Acute or chronic:  Chronic
  • Country:  Malaysia
  • Based at: Universiti Putra Malaysia
  • Start date: 01 April 2018
  • End date: 31 March 2021
  • Supervisors: Hilary Pinnock, Ingrid Young, Sazlina Shariff Ghazali, Ping Yein Lee
  • Email:
Hani Salim Headshot
RESPIRE PhD student: Hani Salim


Health literacy is defined as the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information needed to make appropriate health decisions. In other words, people need a certain degree of literacy level and numeracy skills to be able to comprehend and use health information and services

To date, there is limited data in an Asian context that explores the understanding of asthma, its management and the needs for self-management from the perspective of people with limited health literacy.

Understanding these gaps will help in the development of an intervention tailored to the patients’ health literacy level, potentially, using an ICT-based approach in order to enable supported asthma self-management and to improve clinical outcomes among patients with asthma.

For more information, visit Hani's website

Aim and impact

To develop and pilot an ICT-based intervention for adult asthma, with limited health literacy, to improve asthma self-management in Malaysia.

If successful, the intervention will help empower self-management skills among adults with limited health literacy. Self-management is essential as it has been shown to improve asthma control, reduce exacerbations and admissions and improves quality of life.

Key developments

  • Protocol for a systemic review of interventions addressing health literacy to improve asthma self-management was published in npj Primary Care Respiratory Medicine in May 2019.
  • 8 abstracts delivered at professional conferences (ERS; IPCRG, Health Literacy Conference).
  • Working with people with limited health literacy and asthma in research can be challenging. Thus, to improve understanding and involvement in research, I developed video-based participant information sheet (PIS) with the help of the patient and public involvement (PPI) group both in the UK and Malaysia. 
  • For stakeholder engagement, I was involved with health talks on asthma at the primary health centres to improve awareness on asthma and to introduce RESPIRE’s work in Klang. Along with other researchers from Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM),  I conducted training on ‘communicating asthma to patients’ to healthcare professionals in Klang district based on patients’ feedbacks in my qualitative work.
  • I produced a Photovoice booklet which was presented by a patient participant at the RESPIRE ASM in September 2019. View the leaflet.
  • I took part in the online photograph exhibition: Capturing Chronic Illness
  • I organised a one-week intervention design workshop attended by asthma patients and health professionals. This workshop was initially planned to be delivered through a face-to-face workshop, but as a result of the global pandemic, I have re-planned and successfully conducted this through an online platform. The online platform proves that it is feasible to connect people from different locations and time zones. During this workshop, I collected feedback from various stakeholders on developing an asthma self-management app tailored to low health literacy. A modelled prototype was designed and tested by five participants. Within two-months after the workshop, I have worked closely with our digital-partner to develop a high-fidelity prototype which is now ready for feasibility testing by the RESPIRE team in UPM.
  • As part of the stakeholder engagement work, I have held a number of demonstrations on the App for the local Healthcare Professionals group, including pharmacists, clinicians and paramedics. My plan is to extend these demonstrations to patients.
  • A video about the asthma self-management mobile App tailored to health literacy needs was developed in two languages, to assist the participant recruitment for the feasibility study.  


A systematic review of interventions addressing limited health literacy to improve asthma self-management

Salim H, Ramdzan SN, Ghazali SS, Lee PY, Young I, McClatchey K, Pinnock H; on behalf of the NIHR Global Health Research Unit on Respiratory Health (RESPIRE) collaboration

J Glob Health. 2020 Jun; 10(1):010428. 

Protocol for a systematic review of interventions addressing health literacy to improve asthma self-management.

Salim H, Young I, Ghazali SS, Lee PY, Ramdzan SN & Pinnock H.

NPJ Prim Care Respir Med. 2019 May; 29:18

Project data

Download the project Data Management Plan

View project metadata on the Health Data Research Innovation Gateway

View associated project data on Edinburgh DataShare

About me

I’m a family doctor, and have a specific interest in self-management in asthma. Currently I’m based at Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) as a member of academic staff, where I’ve been joining since 2015.

Through my research at RESPIRE, I hope to gain skills as a researcher and network with world-renowned researchers at the University of Edinburgh. With my current and potentially, future work, I hope to support people with asthma in Malaysia and to care for their health.

Three-Minute Thesis-Style Video Competition

For the RESPIRE ASM Showcase on the 24th November 2020, the RESPIRE PhD students recorded videos explaining their research, as part of a Three-Minute Thesis-Style Video Competition. Watch Hani's presentation below.

Video: SALIM, Hani
RESPIRE 3-Minute Thesis-Style Video Competition - SALIM, Hani - Developing, refining and feasibility study of an Asthma App for adult with low health literacy to improve asthma self-management