Asthma outcomes may improve with text-message communication, study suggests

Researches at Vancouver-based University of British Columbia examined whether electronic asthma action plans (eAAPs) outperform paper plans and improve asthma-related health outcomes, according to a study cited by MD Magazine.

The team drew up a pilot study, encompassing 106 patients. Fifty-three patients were given paper AAPs while the other half were given eAAPs. Every patient in the study recorded having one or more asthma exacerbation 12 months prior.

The patients with eAAPs received weekly text messages that helped them assess their asthma control and how they engaged with their action plan. One year later, the patients using the eAAPs showed lower incidences of asthma exacerbations, clocking in at 0.82 percent risk ratio compared to the patients using the paper plan.

The pilot study also noted higher instances of asthma control and increased quality of life among the eAAP patients compared to the AAP patients; however, those increases were not deemed statistically significant.

During the span of the study, researchers recorded the response rate for eAAP text messages was 68.4 percent, while 28 percent of patients checked their eAAP during the period of the pilot study.

The authors of the study, including lead author Mark FitzGerald, MD,of Vancouver-based Institute for Heart and Lung Health at the University of British Columbia, said the increase is enough to warrant a larger study.

We demonstrated that the eAAP presented improved asthma control outcomes, but as expected the sample size was inadequate to show a significant difference but based on this pilot study we plan a larger appropriately powered RCT, the researchers wrote.

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