Dec 06, 2010


The Asthma Files is an intervention for children with asthma that involves an interactive computer game and a booklet on asthma self-management. It aims to increase children’s asthma knowledge, internal locus of control regarding asthma, and lung function. Positive impacts were found for asthma knowledge locus of control, school absences, and oral steroid use.


Target population: children with asthma

The Asthma Files is an intervention for children with asthma that consists of an interactive educational computer game and a booklet on asthma self-management. The computer game has a secret agent theme and has eight sections that focus on basic asthma information, self-management, and role-play. As part of the game, children listen to voiceovers and complete quizzes and basic problem-solving tasks. Children can enter information about their peak flow score, which functions as an indicator of lung function, and asthma triggers in order to receive a self-management plan, and they can also print out any information from the game. After completing all eight sections, they gain access to a “secret level,” which uses quizzes and games to reinforce the message about asthma self-management. The game takes about 90 minutes to complete. The booklet, which is called “Asthma at Home,” includes information on asthma self-management similar to what is presented in the computer game and also includes a space for writing the child’s usual treatment and contact information for the local hospital and health care professionals.


Evaluated population: 101 children seven to fourteen years old who were currently receiving treatment for asthma. 53 percent of the sample were boys, and 89 percent were white.

Approach: Participants were randomly assigned to the intervention group or the control group. The control group received the booklet on asthma self-management only. The researcher came to the homes of children in the intervention group with a laptop computer that the children could use to play The Asthma Files game. Afterward the children were given a copy of the game to keep, along with a self-management plan. Data were collected on asthma knowledge, asthma locus of control, and lung function, one month before the intervention and one month after the intervention. Parents were interviewed six months after the intervention about children’s emergency visits to the hospital or a general practitioner, school absences, and use of oral steroids.

Results: Children in the intervention group increased their knowledge of asthma and their internality on the asthma locus of control measure more between pre-test and post-test than did those in the control group. However, there was no impact on lung function at post-test. The follow-up interviews with parents showed that children in the intervention group had fewer courses of steroids and fewer school absences during the six months following the intervention, compared with children in the control group. Children in the intervention group also had marginally fewer emergency care visits during the same period, compared with children in the control group.



McPherson, A.C., Glazebrook, C., Forster, D., James, C., & Smyth, A. (2006). A randomized, controlled trial of an interactive educational computer package for children with asthma. Pediatrics, 117,1046-1054.

Children (3-11), Adolescents (12-17), Males and Females (Co-ed), Computer-based, Other Physical Health, Home-Visitation

Program information updated on 12/6/10.