Asthma Command is a ten-month clinic-based intervention for children with asthma. The program aims to promote children’s appropriate asthma-related behaviors and their knowledge of asthma, and to decrease asthma-related morbidity, by means of a computer game that simulates one day in each season for a child with asthma. Children must use their knowledge of asthma to score points, and, based on their performance in the game, they receive feedback on their asthma management. An evaluation found positive impacts on knowledge of asthma and appropriate asthma-related behaviors, but no impact on morbidity.
DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM
Target population: children with asthma
Asthma Command is a clinic-based intervention involving sessions playing an interactive computer game that teaches recognition of symptoms and allergens, appropriate uses of medication, the emergency room, and physician’s office, and the value of school attendance. The game simulates one day in each season for a child with asthma. Children must use their knowledge of asthma management to maneuver through obstacles and score points by avoiding allergens; appropriately using medications, the emergency room, and the physician’s office; and attending school. The game takes 40 to 45 minutes to complete, and at the end children receive a printout of their strengths and weaknesses in asthma management, based on their performance in the game. During each session, children have about 40 minutes to play the game, and then they spend about five minutes reviewing their printout with the research assistant. Sessions occur once every six weeks, for ten months.
EVALUATION OF PROGRAM
Evaluated population: 65 children between seven and twelve years old who had an acute-care visit to the emergency room due to asthma at least three times in the past year. The average age of the sample was nine years. 56 percent of the sample was male, and 67 percent were white.
Approach: Children were randomly assigned to the intervention condition or control condition. Children in the control condition played a computer game that was unrelated to asthma during their sessions, and then the research assistant provided them with instructions on asthma management, following the same basic principles as the Asthma Command game. Data were collected on children’s asthma management behavior, asthma knowledge, asthma-related morbidity, and psychological variables, and parents were interviewed at post-test about changes in their children’s asthma-related behaviors.
Results: Positive impacts were found for children’s knowledge of asthma. Children in the intervention group also reported more appropriate behaviors regarding asthma at post-test, compared with children in the control group. Parent interviews showed more general remarks on asthma-related behaviors for those in the intervention group, compared with those in the control group. Parents of children in the intervention group also reported that their children had fewer asthma attacks, compared with parents of children in the control group. There were no impacts on non-asthma related behaviors, asthma-related morbidity, or any of the psychological variables.
SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION
Rubin, D.H., Leventhal, J.M., Sadock, R.T., Letovsky, E., Schottland, P., Clemente, I., & McCarthy, P. (1986). Educational intervention by computer inc childhood asthma: A randomized clinical trial testing the use of a new teaching intervention in childhood asthma. Pediatrics, 77,1-10.
KEYWORDS: Children (3-11), Adolescents (12-17), Males and Females (Co-ed), Clinic/Provider-based, Computer-based, Health Status/Conditions, Other Physical Health
Program information last updated on 12/6/10.