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Asthma treatment management improved with website

(RxWiki News) It’s a hard task to manage your own health. But keeping up with your child’s medication schedules can be an extra challenge for many families, especially for ongoing conditions like asthma.

Doctors prescribe controller medication like inhalers for children with asthma, but the children don’t always use the medication as much as they should.

A new study shows that an online, interactive web tool helps parents better manage their children’s asthma treatment.

"Ask your pediatrician for tools to help your family manage asthma treatment."

Dimitri Christakis, MD, MPH, the Director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Hospital, led the study to find out if a website that gave personal and direct advice and feedback to families would help them manage their children’s medication better.

A total of 603 parents of children with asthma were randomly selected to be in this study. Of these, 283 were selected to use the website; the others were used for the comparison group.

For the study, parents logged on to a website created by the Seattle hospital called “My Child’s Asthma” once a month, for six months.

On the site, parents answered a series of questions about their child’s symptoms and prescribed treatment. Medical professionals gave the parents advice and feedback about their child’s treatment plan in response to their answers.

After six months of these “check-ins,” the parents had the option to continue for another six months. Researchers looked at how the children were doing with their controller use after six months in the program and then after a full year for those that chose to continue.

At six months, researchers found that children whose parents were using the “My Child’s Asthma” website had benefited. Those children that were already prescribed controllers at the beginning of the study were using them as prescribed almost twice as well as the group that hadn’t used the website.

Children who should have been on inhalers but were not were almost three times more likely to receive one and begin using it if their parents used the website.

After twelve months, researchers couldn’t find a big difference between the controller-using children whose parents used the website and those who didn’t.

Although asthma symptom controllers can help lessen asthma symptoms, some doctors don’t prescribe them enough for children because parents have a hard time giving appropriate doses to their children regularly.

If the website usage could increase the number of parents giving their children the medication correctly, the researchers hoped this might lead to doctors feeling more confident prescribing controllers to children.

"The vast majority of families enrolled in our study liked using 'My Child's Asthma,' and wanted to continue using it," said Dr. Christakis. "Sustainability is always an issue. But there are numerous benefits from this type of website for the child who has fewer asthma attacks and, subsequently, fewer hospital and emergency room visits.”

“Parents will have fewer worries about their child's medical care and the site provides cost savings for the insurer,” he said.

This study appeared in the May 31 edition of Academic Pediatrics.

This study was supported by a grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health. No conflicts of interest were noted.

Review Date: 
June 26, 2012