Pilot study of a brief provider and EMR-based intervention for overweight teens with asthma

Pilot Feasibility Stud. 2021 Aug 30;7(1):167. doi: 10.1186/s40814-021-00848-6.


Introduction: Asthma-related morbidity is increased in overweight patients, yet providers are given little guidance on how to discuss weight and asthma management with overweight teens.

Objective: We piloted an electronic medical record (EMR)-based tailored discussion guide (TDG) and a brief provider training, to address weight management in overweight teens with asthma. The primary outcome was intervention impact on patient-reported asthma outcomes (e.g., asthma control and morbidity). Secondary outcomes included change in BMI, patient-centeredness, and change in healthy behaviors.

Methods: Teens aged 13-18 years with persistent asthma and a body mass index ≥ 85th percentile for their age and sex were eligible. Parents of eligible teens were contacted before an upcoming appointment to allow teen enrollment during the clinic visit. Providers reviewed Motivational Interviewing (MI) concepts and were trained in the TDG for support of conversations around weight and asthma management. Measures included asthma outcomes retrieved from the EMR at 6- and 12-month post-baseline, teen impressions of patient-provider communication at 6-week post-enrollment, and teen report of healthy behaviors at 6- and 12-month post-baseline.

Results: Of 44 teens enrolled (77% African-American, 63% female), mean BMI for intervention (n=25) and control groups (n=19) at baseline were similar. Thirty participants (68%) completed a 6-week questionnaire. Compared to controls, at 6 months, intervention teens reported fewer days of limited activity and "uncontrolled asthma," but at 12 months, only restricted activity remained lower, and BMI was not reduced. Intervention teens reported clinic visits that were more patient-centered than controls, including discussion of asthma treatment options with provider, feeling ready to follow an asthma treatment routine, and receiving helpful tips about reaching a healthy weight. The healthy behavior "dinner with family" showed improvement for intervention teens at 6 and 12 months. The feasibility study also revealed a need to improve recruitment strategies and to streamline intervention delivery.

Conclusion: Modest improvements in patient-reported asthma outcomes and health behaviors were observed. There was strong evidence that the TDG supports provider discussion of weight and asthma to create a more patient-centered conversation from the perspective of participating teens. Challenges to recruitment and clinic adaptation must be addressed before advancing to a full-scale trial.

Trial registration: NCT02575326 Teen Asthma Control Encouraging a Healthier Lifestyle, www.cllinicaltrials.gov.

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02575326