Randomised comparison of three tools for improving compliance with occlusion therapy: an educational cartoon story, a reward calendar, and an information leaflet for parents

Graefes Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2013 Jan;251(1):321-9. doi: 10.1007/s00417-012-2107-4. Epub 2012 Jul 22.


Background: We previously demonstrated that compliance with occlusion therapy for amblyopia was improved by the use of an educational programme, especially in children of parents of foreign origin and who spoke Dutch poorly. The programme consisted of: (i) a cartoon story for amblyopic children that explained without words why they should patch, (ii) a calendar with reward stickers, and (iii) an information leaflet for parents. In the current study, we assessed the individual effect of each component on compliance.

Methods: We recruited 120 3- to 6-year-old children who lived in a low socio-economic status (SES) area in The Hague and were starting occlusion therapy for the first time. They were randomised to receive one of the components (three intervention groups), or a picture to colour (control group). The randomisation was blinded for treating orthoptist and researcher. Compliance was measured electronically using the Occlusion Dose Monitor (ODM). Primary outcome was percentage of compliance (actual/prescribed occlusion time). Secondary outcome was absolute occlusion hours per day. Parental fluency in Dutch was rated on a five-point scale.

Results: Compliance could be measured electronically in 88 of the 120 children; in 32 others, it failed for various reasons. Parental fluency in Dutch was moderate or worse in 36.4 % (p = 0.327). Average compliance was 55 % standard deviation (SD) 40 (n = 18) in the control group, 89 % SD 25 in the group receiving the educational cartoon (n = 25, P = 0.002 compared with control group), 67 % SD 33 (n = 24, P = 0.301) in the reward-calendar group and 73 % SD 40 (n = 21, P = 0.119) in the parent-information-leaflet group. On average, children in the control group occluded 1:46 SD1:19 hours/day, 2:33 SD 1:18 hours/day in the group receiving the educational cartoon, 1:59 SD 1:13 hours/day in the reward-calendar group and 2:18 SD 1:13 hours/day in the parent-information-leaflet group. No child who received the cartoon story occluded less than 1 hour per day, against seven in the reward-calendar group, five in the parent-information-leaflet group and five in the control group.

Conclusions: Although all three components of the programme improved compliance with occlusion therapy in children in low-SES areas, the educational cartoon had the strongest effect, as it explained without words to a 4- to 5-year-old child why it should wear the eye patch.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amblyopia / ethnology
  • Amblyopia / therapy*
  • Bandages*
  • Cartoons as Topic*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Netherlands
  • Orthoptics / instrumentation
  • Parents / education*
  • Patient Compliance / statistics & numerical data*
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Sensory Deprivation
  • Teaching Materials*