Multidisciplinary Team, Smartphone App Improve Asthma Control in Kids

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A pair of new studies looks at the effect of care from a multidisciplinary team of providers and use of a smartphone app on asthma adherence in young patients.

A pair of new studies looks at the effect of care from a multidisciplinary team of providers and use of a smartphone app on asthma adherence in young patients.

Children with asthma often have trouble remaining adherent to their medications and controlling the condition, but a pair of studies presented on March 2, 2014, at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology 2014 Annual Meeting in San Diego, California, offers potential solutions to this problem.

The first study followed children living in an urban area with high-risk asthma who visited a referral clinic from January 2010 through December 2012. During clinic visits, care was delivered by a multidisciplinary team that included an allergist, pulmonologist, psychologist, and social work and nursing specialists. Asthma Control Test scores were recorded for each patient visit.

The results indicated no statistical difference between baseline control scores for patients who did not follow up at the clinic and those who followed up at least once. However, when first and last visit control scores were compared, more patients changed from uncontrolled to controlled than from controlled to uncontrolled. The results also indicated that as time between clinic visits increased, patients’ control score at the final clinic visit decreased. In addition, girls were more likely to improve their control scores than were boys.

The results indicated that visiting the clinic helped to improve asthma control, but the researchers note that further study is needed to investigate barriers to clinic attendance.

The second study aimed to engage kids and teens with asthma using electronic media.

The researchers developed AsthmaCare, a personalized, interactive iOS smartphone application designed to improve asthma patients’ self-management skills. During the 30-day study period, 21 asthma patients aged 9 to 16 years who had been prescribed at least 1 controller medication used the app on iPod Touch devices.

At the end of the trial, adherence to asthma medications had improved in 85% of participants. In addition, 42% of kids and teens in the study learned asthma trigger avoidance skills. All of the children who participated in the study preferred using the interactive action plan provided by the app to using a written plan, and 95% said they preferred smartphone apps compared with asthma monitoring and education methods they had used previously.

The study authors note that electronic media may be the best way to educate kids and teens with asthma, who are often difficult to reach.

“Mobile health applications should be further developed to promote and improve asthma management and medication adherence,” they conclude.

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