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Using the Telephone to Improve Care in Childhood Asthma

This study has been completed.
ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier:
First Posted: April 17, 2008
Last Update Posted: April 17, 2008
The safety and scientific validity of this study is the responsibility of the study sponsor and investigators. Listing a study does not mean it has been evaluated by the U.S. Federal Government. Read our disclaimer for details.
Information provided by:
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)

Asthma is the most common chronic disease of childhood and a major cause of morbidity in the United States. If asthma symptoms are controlled, a child with asthma can stay well and lead a normal life. Daily use of inhaled steroids controls symptoms and reduces morbidity and emergent health care utilization in children with persistent asthma, and is safe for long-term use. However, inhaled steroids are underused in community asthma care.

The Telephone Asthma Program (TAP) is a series of brief, telephone calls with a trained coach to help the parent manage the child's asthma care. The coach will teach self-management skills, help the parent to use the child's asthma medicines effectively, provide support and remind the parent to go for follow-up care with the pediatrician. We hypothesized that the Telephone Asthma Program will reduce the incidence of acute exacerbations of asthma that require emergent care, improve the quality of life of children with asthma and their parents, and increase the daily use of inhaled steroids in children with persistent asthma. We evaluated the Telephone Asthma Program in a randomized controlled trial involving 362 children aged 5 to 12 years old cared for by community pediatricians. Eligible children were randomized to the TAP program or usual care by their pediatrician.

Condition Intervention
Asthma Behavioral: Telephone Asthma Program

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: Triple (Care Provider, Investigator, Outcomes Assessor)
Primary Purpose: Supportive Care
Official Title: Using the Telephone to Improve Care in Childhood Asthma

Resource links provided by NLM:

Further study details as provided by Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ):

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • Parental asthma-related quality of life [ Time Frame: one year ]
  • Urgent care events for asthma [ Time Frame: One year ]

Enrollment: 362
Study Start Date: January 2004
Study Completion Date: June 2007
Primary Completion Date: January 2006 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Arms Assigned Interventions
No Intervention: Control
Families assigned to the control arm will receive usual asthma care from the child's primary care provider.
Experimental: Intervention
The Telephone Asthma Program and usual care.
Behavioral: Telephone Asthma Program

The parent will have access to a trained asthma coach for 12 months. The coach will call the parents at mutually convenient times (up to 12 times a year) to work on 4 targeted asthma behaviors:

  1. Using asthma controller medications as prescribed
  2. Having and Asthma Action Plan available to all who may need it.
  3. Using asthma rescue medications with the child's first symptoms.
  4. Having a collaborative relationship with the child's primary care provider that includes asthma check-ups at least twice a year.

Detailed Description:

Asthma morbidity is largely preventable with effective maintenance care. National guidelines recommend 1) daily treatment with inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) to prevent asthma symptoms and activity limitations, minimize acute exacerbations and maintain normal lung function; 2) early intervention guided by a written Asthma Action Plan for worsening symptoms;3) a partnership between the primary care provider, the patient and their family to develop shared treatment goals, select an appropriate treatment plan, resolve asthma-related concerns, and provide support for day-to-day care, and 4) periodic assessments (every 1 to 6 months) by the physician to monitor asthma control and assess if the goals of therapy are being met, with asthma self-management education provided at diagnosis and reinforced at every opportunity. Despite widespread dissemination of these guidelines, under-use of controller medications is pervasive, home management of an acute exacerbation is often delayed and inadequate, and only 50% of asthmatic children report maintenance care visits twice a year. Most primary care pediatricians do not provide education about use of preventive treatments or self-management behaviors citing lack of confidence in their ability to effect change, logistical issues such as lack of time, educational materials, support staff, and inadequate reimbursement as significant barriers to these activities. Practical, efficient interventions to improve maintenance asthma care in office-practice are needed.

In response to complaints from community pediatricians in our practice-based research network that few children with persistent asthma used their controller medications as prescribed we collaborated with local asthma experts and the telephone triage service at our children's hospital to develop and evaluate a 12-month telephone-coaching program to provide education and support to parents to improve asthma self-management for their children. The Telephone Asthma Program (TAP) was provided in addition to usual care, and was evaluated in a randomized controlled trial (RCT).

The TAP program was based on the Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change developed by James Prochaska. This model postulates a series of 5 ordered stages of readiness to change to a desired behavior (Precontemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action and Maintenance). The desired behaviors for TAP were: 1) using controller medications as prescribed, 2) administering rescue medications at the child's first signs of an asthma exacerbation, 3) having an up-to-date asthma action plan readily available for all who may need it, and 4) having a collaborative relationship with the child's PCP that included regular asthma check-up visits at least every 6 months. Our goal was that all 4 behaviors would be addressed by the coach for each parent throughout the 12-month program period. Guided by computerized telephone protocols the coach provided tailored care advice appropriate for the parent's stage of readiness for behavior change. In this way, the coach could provide education and support to help the parent to provide effective asthma care at home for their child, and supplement the care provided by the physician.


Information from the National Library of Medicine

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Ages Eligible for Study:   5 Years to 12 Years   (Child)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Physician diagnosis of asthma for at least a year
  • At least one acute exacerbation of asthma in past 12 months that required a visit to the emergency department, hospitalization or an unscheduled office visit for acute care and/or a course of oral steroids.
  • Taking daily controller medications or symptoms consistent with persistent asthma

Exclusion Criteria:

  • No phone
  • Unable to speak English
  • Child has another disease that requires regular monitoring by pediatrician
  • A sibling is already enrolled in the study
  • Child's primary asthma provider is an asthma specialist
  Contacts and Locations
Information from the National Library of Medicine

To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contact information provided by the sponsor.

Please refer to this study by its ClinicalTrials.gov identifier (NCT number): NCT00660322

United States, Missouri
Washington University School of Medicine
St Louis, Missouri, United States, 63110
Sponsors and Collaborators
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)
Principal Investigator: Jane Garbutt, MD Washington University School of Medicine
  More Information

Publications automatically indexed to this study by ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier (NCT Number):
Responsible Party: Jane Garbutt, MB,ChB, Washington University School of Medicine
ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT00660322     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: HS015378
First Submitted: April 15, 2008
First Posted: April 17, 2008
Last Update Posted: April 17, 2008
Last Verified: April 2008

Keywords provided by Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ):
Randomized controlled trial

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Bronchial Diseases
Respiratory Tract Diseases
Lung Diseases, Obstructive
Lung Diseases
Respiratory Hypersensitivity
Hypersensitivity, Immediate
Immune System Diseases