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Internet Asthma Program May Be Superior to Usual Care

Study finds Internet group enjoys better quality of life, lung function, more symptom-free days

TUESDAY, July 21 (HealthDay News) -- An Internet-based asthma management program is more effective than usual care in controlling asthma and increasing the number of symptom-free days, according to a study in the July 21 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Victor van der Meer, M.D., of Leiden University Medical Center in Leiden, Netherlands, and colleagues conducted a trial in which 200 adult asthma patients from 37 general practices and one academic outpatient department were randomized to an Internet-based self-management program, including weekly monitoring, treatment guidance, Web communications, and online group education, or to usual care. Study outcome was asthma-related quality of life measured at 12 months using the Asthma Quality of Life Questionnaire (rated on a seven-point scale), asthma control, symptom-free days, lung function, and number of exacerbations.

Overall, the researchers found that asthma-related quality of life improved by 0.56 points for the Internet group compared to 0.18 points for the usual care group. Fifty-four percent of the members of the Internet group saw an improvement of 0.5 points or more compared to 27 percent for the usual care group. The Internet group also had superior asthma control, reported more symptom-free days, and had improved FEV1 compared with the usual care group. The incidence of exacerbations were similar for both groups.

"In conclusion, Internet-based self-management improves asthma-related quality of life, asthma control, and lung function and increases the number of symptom-free days," the authors write. "The challenge is implementing Internet-based self-management on a wider scale within routine asthma care."

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