Telephone coaching improves quality of life for parents of children with asthma

Research Activities, February 2011, No. 366

For parents of children who have asthma, life can be stressful and unpredictable. Regular use of inhaled corticosteroids and careful monitoring can help reduce acute asthma episodes and improve quality of life. Unfortunately, clinicians do not always sit down with parents and children to discuss asthma control, potential problems, and educational interventions. Yet a new study finds that implementing a telephone coaching program can help parents and children manage the disease better and reduce the number of acute asthma care events.

Researchers compared usual asthma care practices with usual care plus a 12-month telephone coaching program for children with asthma cared for by community pediatricians in St. Louis. Parents of children randomized to the coaching intervention received monthly (or more frequent) telephone calls from trained pediatric nurses. The goal was to help children and parents with the day-to-day management of asthma care. This focused on using controller and rescue medications as prescribed, having an up-to-date asthma action plan, and forging a relationship with the child's primary care provider. A total of 190 children were randomized to the telephone-coaching group and 172 to the usual-care control group.

The researchers interviewed parents and children to determine their quality-of-life scores. In addition, they tracked urgent care events over the course of a year. Quality-of-life scores improved significantly in the telephone coaching group. These improvements were greater for parents who received 9 or more calls. There were no decreases in the number of urgent care events in either group or in the reported use of controller medications.

Telephone coaching resulted in a significant reduction in the proportion of children with poorly controlled asthma. In addition, it boosted the number of parents who had an asthma action plan and whose children had asthma checkups in the past 6 months. Children who underwent telephone coaching also had a higher rate of being immunized for influenza. The study was supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS15378).

See "Telephone coaching for parents of children with asthma," by Jane M. Garbutt, M.B., Ch.B., Christina Banister, B.A., Gabrielle Highstein, Ph.D., and others in the July 2010 Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine 164(7), pp. 625-630.

Current as of February 2011
Internet Citation: Telephone coaching improves quality of life for parents of children with asthma: Research Activities, February 2011, No. 366. February 2011. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.