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Telemedical asthma education and well-being outcomes for school-age children

Published online: February 18, 2020

Approximately 9% of school-individuals ages 5-18 in the United States have an asthma diagnosis. Children with asthma face challenges that can affect their academic performance, health outcomes, and physical development. Telemedicine, the provision of medical care via technological means, in a school-based setting has been shown to be an effective healthcare solution by providing increased care at reduced financial burden for school-age children with asthma. Furthermore, asthma education research shows that improving asthma self-management tends to be more effective with more engaged mechanisms in education. However, most asthma education for school-age individuals comes in the form of relatively low engagement face-to-face educational mechanisms, such as delivering printed literature or conversations with parents or caretakers.

In a review of the published literature recently published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, Culmer and colleagues examined outcomes for school-age children with asthma involving live and interactive asthma-based telemedical education. From a review of 408 articles in the literature, the authors uncovered a small number of studies specifically related to delivery of live, interactive asthma education to school age children via telemedical methods. Study outcomes included, but were not limited to, symptomatic improvement, educational outcomes, satisfaction, self-management, self-efficacy, knowledge gain, and quality of life.

Data regarding most health outcomes (e.g., pulmonary function and healthcare utilization) varied between positive and neutral. However, support for telemedical education for asthma was found in regard to symptom reduction and increased symptom-free days. Only one study reported on an educational outcome though. This study found reduced absenteeism as a result of the telemedical education. No other educational variables were measured in any of the articles. Self-management of symptoms improved, though perceived self-efficacy did not. Additional mixed results (ranging from positive to neutral) were found with regard to intervention satisfaction and knowledge gain.

This review provides tentative support for improved quality of life through telemedical asthma education, depending on the aspect of quality of life in question. Caution in interpretation is warranted due to the use of a variety of measures for similar variables. In addition to desirable effects of telemedical education in the form of reduced symptom burden and symptom-free days, the other major finding is that standardization of delivery, evaluation, and curriculum of telemedical asthma education is warranted as this method of education appears to potentially benefit children with 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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