Understanding asthma: a study to evaluate the impact of an educational computer program on children's knowledge and selfmanagement skills

McPherson, Amy (2003) Understanding asthma: a study to evaluate the impact of an educational computer program on children's knowledge and selfmanagement skills. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Childhood asthma is an extensive problem and is particularly pronounced in the UK. Asthma can restrict activities, cause school absence and can be the source of considerable stress in both children and their parents. Mortality is rare and preventable, although poor perception of symptoms and delay in seeking medical attention are strong risk factors for a fatal asthma attack. Self- management actively involves the child in their own healthcare and entails monitoring symptoms and responding accordingly and has been linked to better outcomes. This can be facilitated by health education.

The aims of this project were to develop an educational computer program to promote self-management skills in children and young people with asthma, to evaluate its effectiveness in a clinical sample and to validate measures of asthma knowledge and locus of control.

The Asthma Files uses a 'secret agent' theme to encourage users to investigate information about asthma. The program was piloted with 28

children aged 7-16 over a one year period and revised in accordance with both qualitative and quantitative data obtained.

To evaluate the computer program, 101 children aged between 7 and 14 years were recruited from three hospital asthma out-patient clinics to participate in a randomised, controlled trial. They were interviewed using asthma knowledge and asthma-specific locus of control measures developed and validated for the purposes of the study. All children were given an information booklet one month later and, in addition, 50 children used the computer program.

Baseline knowledge levels were low. At one-month follow-up (n=99), children in the computer group had significantly greater increases than those in the control group (p<0.001), along with an rise in internal locus of control(p<0.01). There was no evidence of changes in objective lung function measures, hospitalisations or oral steroid use between the groups at this time. However, at six months follow-up (n=90), children in the computer group were significantly less likely to have required oral steroids or school absence than the control group (p<0.05). The program was popular with the children across the age range and received positive feedback on both content and mode of delivery. Responding to comments provided by the children in the RCT, some minor amendments were made to the program, which is now available for public use.

The Asthma Files computer program was successful in increasing knowledge and promoting internal locus of control. More research is needed to evaluated how this might translate into longer term improvements in self-management.

NB. This ethesis has been created by scanning the typescript original and may contain inaccuracies. In case of difficulty, please refer to the original text.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Glazebrook, C.P.
Smyth, A.R.
Subjects: W Medicine and related subjects (NLM Classification) > WF Respiratory system
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Community Health Sciences
Item ID: 10338
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 22 Oct 2007
Last Modified: 17 Oct 2017 05:46
URI: https://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/10338

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