Mobile measuring of asthma symptoms, adherence in teenagers effective

Mobile phones provide a feasible method for assessing asthma symptoms and medication adherence in adolescents, according to study results published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

Treatment for asthma is typically addressed initially through the use of what is known as a "rescue" inhaler that is used at the time that symptoms, such as shortness of breath, cough, or wheezing, occur. If symptoms persist over time despite use of rescue medications, a controller or "everyday" inhaler is prescribed. 

In the study, 53 adolescents aged 12-18 years with a diagnosis of asthma and prescribed inhalers were recruited from the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn. Quantitative and qualitative assessment of asthma symptoms and adherence were conducted with daily calls to mobile phones for one month, with the Asthma Control Test (ACT) administered at two study time points: baseline and one month after baseline.

The teenagers responded to an average of 20.1 of the 30 daily calls received (67 percent). Response frequency declined during the last week of the month and was related to ecological momentary assessment (EMA)-reported levels of rescue inhaler adherence. 

Using EMA, adolescents reported an average of 0.63 asthma symptoms per day and used a rescue inhaler an average of 70 percent of the time when they experienced symptoms. About half (53 percent) of the instances of non-adherence took place in the presence of friends.

"The EMA-measured adherence to rescue inhaler use correlated appropriately with asthma control as measured by the ACT," concluded the article. "The EMA method was consistent with the ACT, a widely established measure of asthma control, and results provided valuable insights regarding the context of adherence decision making that could be used clinically for problem solving or as feedback to adolescents in a mobile or Web-based support system." 

A recent study from the Georgia Institute of Technology has found that simple, daily SMS text messages asking pediatric asthma patients about their symptoms and providing knowledge about their condition can lead to improved health outcomes. For the study, researchers randomly assigned 30 asthmatic children from a private pediatric pulmonology clinic in Atlanta into three groups--a control group that did not receive any SMS messages; a group that received text messages on alternate days; and a group that received texts every day. 

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