Objective: Adequate symptom control is a problem for many people with asthma. We asked whether weekly email reports on monitored use of inhaled, short-acting bronchodilators might improve scores on composite asthma-control measures.
Methods: Through an investigational electronic medication sensor attached to each participant's inhaler, we monitored 4 months' use of inhaled, short-acting bronchodilators. Participants completed surveys, including the Asthma Control Test(TM) (ACT), to assess asthma control at entry and monthly thereafter. After the first month, participants received weekly email reports for 3 months. The reports summarized inhaled bronchodilator use during the preceding week and provided suggestions derived from National Asthma Education and Prevention Program (NAEPP) guidelines. Paired t-tests and random-effects mixed models were implemented to assess changes in primary asthma endpoints.
Results: Thirty individuals participated in the 4-month study; 29 provided complete asthma control information. Mean age was 36.8 years (range: 19-74 years); 52% of respondents were female. Mean ACT scores were 17.6 (Standard Deviation [SD] = 3.35) at entry and 18.4 (SD = 3.60) at completion of the first month. No significant difference appeared between ACT values at entry and completion of the first month (p = 0.66); however, after participants began receiving email reports and online information about their inhaler use, mean ACT scores increased 1.40 points (95% CI: 0.61, 2.18) for each subsequent study month. Significant decreases occurred in 2-week histories of daytime symptoms (β = -1.35, 95% CI: -2.65, -0.04) and nighttime symptoms (β = -0.84, 95% CI: -1.25, -0.44); no significant change in activity limitation (β = -0.21, 95% CI: -0.69, 0.26) was observed. Participants reported increased awareness and understanding of asthma patterns, level of control, bronchodilator use (timing, location) and triggers, and improved preventive practices.
Conclusions: Weekly email reports and access to online charts summarizing remote monitoring of inhaled bronchodilator frequency and location were associated with improved asthma control and a decline in day-to-day asthma symptoms.