School-based program helps teens cope with asthma

Washington, Dec 08 (ANI): A new study has suggested that school-based intervention program designed for adolescents with asthma significantly improves asthma management and quality of life for the students who participate, and reduces asthma morbidity.

Researchers in New York City studied the effect of the eight-week program, The Asthma Self-Management for Adolescents, aimed at urban youth and their medical providers.

"We found that, relative to controls, ASMA students reported significantly more confidence in managing their asthma, greater use of their controller medication and written treatment plans, fewer days with asthma-related activity restrictions and fewer emergency department visits and hospitalizations, as well as an improved quality of life," said Jean-Marie Bruzzese, assistant professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine.

"Our findings indicate ASMA is effective in improving asthma self-management and in reducing asthma morbidity and urgent health-care use in low-income, urban minority adolescents," she added.

The researchers enrolled 9th and 10th graders from five New York City high schools.

To aid in selection, students in these grades were asked to complete a case detection survey, which asked students if they had been diagnosed asthma and gathered information about the frequency of symptoms and the use of prescribed asthma medication.

Following parental consent, researchers enlisted 345 students who reported an asthma diagnosis, symptoms of moderate to severe persistent asthma and asthma medication use in the previous 12 months, and randomized them to ASMA or a wait-list control group.

Those randomized to participate in the ASMA program underwent an eight-week, intensive program aimed at helping students manage their symptoms through three educational group sessions and individual coaching sessions, held at least one each week for five weeks.

Students received coaching about medical visits and how to work with their medical provider to more effectively control their asthma.

The researchers found that, at each follow-up interview, students enrolled in ASMA took significantly more steps to prevent asthma symptoms from occurring and had improved self-confidence in managing their asthma compared to the control group.

Morbidity was also decreased in the ASMA group compared to control as ASMA participants reported a 31 percent reduction in night awakenings and a 42 percent reduction in activity restriction due to asthma, as well as a 28 percent reduction in acute medical visits, a 49 percent reduction in emergency department visits and a 76 percent reduction in hospitalizations compared with controls.

"Adoption of ASMA by schools would contribute to reducing the burden of asthma on adolescents, as well decreasing the health-care burden of the community at large," noted Bruzzese.

The findings were published online in the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. (ANI)

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