In a recent study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, the CareSpeak Mobile Health Manager, in conjunction with other motivational technologies, was used by researchers at Wayne State University to pilot a new technology driven intervention promoting adherence to asthma controller medication. With a 50% reduction in self-reported asthma symptoms in the intervention group, the pilot showed that the use of these technologies can lead to better management of the condition. A larger study is planned to further validate the findings.
Asthma, a common autoimmune disorder, affects people of all ages and requires careful monitoring and management. Asthma control varies between age groups and ethnic backgrounds. It has been found that racial and ethnic minority youth have poorer asthma control than white youth, increasing their chance of asthma exacerbations and complications.
Wayne State University piloted a randomized controlled study to gain better understanding of whether a technology driven approach could improve asthma management in African American emerging adults.
Forty eight participants who were 18-29 years old, African American, with persistent asthma requiring controller medication were recruited for the pilot. The participants were randomized into intervention and control groups who received two sessions of a computer based motivational intervention followed by a daily medication reminder text message or a daily asthma fact text message, respectively. The CareSpeak mobile health manager program was used to collect "real-time" data on medication use and asthma control, as well as deliver the messages to the intervention and control groups. The study procedure consisted of two separate data collection sessions at baseline and three months, and periodic follow-ups with the participants after one month and three months.
At the start of the study, participants in both the control and intervention groups reported poorly controlled asthma and subpar lung function. At baseline, the participants reported taking controller medication as prescribed only 68.8% of the time. From baseline to three months, the two groups showed improvement in asthma control, and a 50% decrease in self-reported asthma symptoms. The users also gave favorable ratings for the program, with greater satisfaction scores in the intervention group. The program had high retention rates, as 45 out of the 49 participants remained in the study over the three-month period.
With a 50% reduction is self-reported asthma symptoms, high retention rates, and strong satisfaction scores, technology-based interventions like those available on the CareSpeak two-way text messaging platform can be useful for helping patients. African American emerging adults in the study were able to defy their inherent risk factor for poor adherence with the help of the program. CareSpeak text-messaging technology is very versatile and can be used for not just medication reminders, but also data collection and educational purposes. As the study authors themselves stated, "Technology-delivered interventions can be provided inexpensively and easily to unprecedented proportions of persons with a given behavioral risk factor such as poor medication adherence. These interventions could be used to dramatically and cost-effectively identify and address asthma regimen adherence issues during routine asthma or primary care."
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