Background: Asthma is an important cause of morbidity, absence from school, and use of health services among children. Computer-based educational programs can be designed to enhance children's self-management skills and to reduce adverse outcomes.
Objective: To assess the effectiveness of an interactive device programmed for the management of pediatric asthma.
Design: A randomized controlled trial (66 participants were in the intervention group and 68 were in the control group).
Setting: Interventions conducted at home and in an outpatient hospital clinic.
Participants: Inner-city children aged 8 to 16 years diagnosed as having asthma by a physician.
Intervention: An asthma self-management and education program, the Health Buddy, designed to enable children to assess and monitor their asthma symptoms and quality of life and to transmit this information to health care providers (physicians, nurses, or other case managers) through a secure Web site. Control group participants used an asthma diary.
Main outcome measures: Any limitation in activity was the primary outcome. Secondary outcomes included perceived asthma symptoms, absence from school, any peak flow reading in the yellow or red zone, and use of health services.
Results: After adjusting for covariates, the odds of having any limitation in activity during the 90-day trial were significantly (P =.03) lower for children randomized to the Health Buddy. The intervention group also was significantly (P =.01) less likely to report peak flow readings in the yellow or red zone or to make urgent calls to the hospital (P =.05). Self-care behaviors, which were important correlates of asthma outcomes, also improved far more for the intervention group.
Conclusion: Compared with the asthma diary, monitoring asthma symptoms and functional status with the Health Buddy increases self-management skills and improves asthma outcomes.