An electronic asthma self-management intervention improves asthma care for African Americans

Published Online: October 2, 2015

Young African American adults represent a population at high risk for poor asthma outcomes due to both their minority status and the difficult transition from adolescence to adulthood. Due to these and other factors, it has been difficult to get such patients involved with or excited about traditional asthma education programs. Additionally, even among young adults who do start an asthma education program, it has been difficult to keep them enrolled through the entire program. The authors of this study attempted to develop and assess the feasibility of electronic asthma self-management program for young African American adults.

In a study conducted by Speck, Hess, and Baptist and published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, 44 African American adults (age 18 to 30) with uncontrolled asthma were enrolled in an asthma self-management intervention called the Breathe Michigan program. This 6-week program was predicated on the social cognitive theory, and was tailored specifically to the concerns and preferences of young African American adults. The entire program was completed electronically, without any specialized human support. Every three to four days, participants would log on and completed tasks including asthma education videos with actors of color, identification of asthma control problems specific to their situation, selection of specific goals they would like to achieve but could not due to asthma, and reading tailored information about ways to overcome barriers to optimal asthma management. At three months after completion of the program, participants were contacted for follow up.

Compared to previous studies in similar populations, the retention rate was high, as 89% of enrolled subjects completed the 6-week intervention and 77% were available for evaluation at three months. All subjects completing the post-program survey reported the program was helpful, and 97% would recommend it to others. Asthma control (as measured by the Asthma Control Test) improved significantly, as did asthma quality of life. Many participants noted that the program was helpful for increasing their asthma acceptance and overall knowledge.

An online asthma education program that is tailored to the needs and preferences of young African American adults with asthma is well received, and may be able to improve asthma control and quality of life. Such programs may be useful to decrease the health care disparities seen in asthma.  

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice is an official journal of the AAAAI, focusing on practical information for the practicing clinician.

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