March 5, 2002
NEW YORK (AAAAI) -- Asthma education in small interactive groups of patients and their parents/caregivers improves self-management and positive decision-making, according to a study presented today at the 58th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI).
Lawrence Caliguiri, MD, FAAAAI, Center for Asthma and Allergy Care, and his Pittsburgh-area colleagues developed "Asthma Care Education: Intensive Training" (ACE IT!), a three-week interactive, small group education program for pediatric asthma patients and their parents/caregivers.
Researchers evaluated 30 patients, ages six to 12 years, and their parents/caregivers who received instruction in the ACE IT! program. The ACE IT! participants were managed by primary care physicians (only two had seen an asthma specialist). Half of the children had previously been hospitalized for asthma. Sixty-eight percent had required urgent office visits and 35% had visited the emergency department in the previous 12 months.
Following the training sessions with an asthma educator and an allergist/immunologist, the children and parents/caregivers were questioned separately. They were asked about behaviors that influence self-management, positive decision-making and knowledge as well as objective clinical outcomes. The participants were evaluated at the beginning, conclusion, six months and one year after the three weekly sessions.
After the sessions, night time awakenings dropped from 53.6% to 41.2% and the number of patients reporting a frequency of two or more awakenings per month dropped from nine to five with fewer parent interruptions during the night (12 vs. nine times). Symptom-free days also improved from an average of 20 days per month to more than 25 days per month.
There were significant improvements in the daily use of peak flow meters, willingness to continue medications that
"did not work" within the first week and anxiety about asthma attacks. There were positive trends in avoidance of allergic triggers such as furry animals, confidence in changing medications when asthma worsens, taking peak flow readings when they feel sick and feeling that asthma is their fault.
Researchers will continue to monitor these subjects to determine the long-term effects on asthma morbidity, quality of life and healthcare costs.