Web-based Tool Helps Children with Asthma

Photo: Child with Asthma

Asthma is the most common
chronic illness in adolescents and
children; © panthermedia.net/
Alexander Jahnke

Asthma is the most common chronic illness in adolescents and children in the United States. The burden of asthma on children is substantial: kids with asthma have a three-fold greater risk of school absence than children without asthma, and asthma is the third leading cause of hospitalisation among children under the age of 15.

Some parents of children with asthma have a tough time complying with treatment guidelines. Numerous surveys report between 40 to 60 per cent of kids with persistent asthma are not receiving controller medications as they should. But there may be a solution.
Led by Doctor Dimitri Christakis, the study found that the most significant benefits to this web-based approach were the interactivity and scaleability of the intervention which made it convenience and easy for parents to use. Scaleability is the ability of computer hardware or software to continue to function well when it is changed to meet a user's needs.

The website, called "My Child's Asthma," queried more than 600 parents enrolled in the study automatically without healthcare staff time, making the site both effective and low cost. Typical questions asked include: "During a recent typical week, on how many days has your child used quick-relief medicine?" and "How often has your child had chest tightness, cough shortness of breath or wheezing?" The site was developed to increase positive beliefs about asthma management, optimise care by increasing provider-prescribed controllers for children with persistent asthma, and promote controller compliance among children on controllers.

"My Child's Asthma" gathered information from parents and applied algorithms to determine asthma severity, home care practices and parental beliefs related to administration of controller on a daily basis (positive and negative outcomes expectations and self-efficacy). The website also provided feedback to parents on their child's asthma symptoms at each successive visit and allowed participants to set goals for themselves. For example, if a child was on controller medications but not taking them regularly, parents could select, "I will give my child her controller as directed by her doctor" or "I will make an appointment to discuss my son's controller usage with his doctor."

MEDICA.de; Source: Seattle Children's Research Institute