The Science Journal of the American Association for Respiratory Care

2005 OPEN FORUM Abstracts

PILOT TESTING OKAY WITH ASTHMAT: A PROGRAM FOR PSYCHOSOCIAL ASTHMA MANAGEMENT

Tami H. Wyatt, PhD, RN University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN

Background: Asthma, an obstructive airway disease characterized by recurrent episodes of breathlessness and wheezing, is the most prevalent chronic illness among children in the United States. An estimated 7.7 million American children have asthma. Health experts suggest that cognitive, emotional, and behavioral variables contribute to its severity. To date, asthma education programs have focused on asthma triggers, behaviors to manage asthma, and asthma medications; however, they have not addressed the emotional component of children's experience with asthma. This is important because the way children feel about their asthma, or their attitude, affects what they learn and how they apply it. The research reported here tested the effectiveness of an educational program for school-aged children with asthma that included not only traditional content to manage asthma but also psychosocial management strategies. Okay with AsthmaT, a digital story and story writing program, was developed for children with asthma between the ages of 8-11 years, based on Gagne's conditions of learning theory and Egan's learning through story model.

Method: The research tested the effects of Okay with AsthmaT on children's attitude toward having asthma and their knowledge of asthma. Using a one-group pretest-posttest non-experimental design, 35 children with moderate to severe asthma, who were enrolled in Albemarle county public schools completed a pretest to measure knowledge and attitude, then completed Okay with AsthmaT. At 1-week and 2-week post intervention, participants completed the knowledge and attitude measures again.

Results: Children had significant improvements in asthma knowledge scores at 1-week (t=3.107, p=.004) and 2-week (z=2.705, p=.007) evaluation and significant improvements in attitude scores 2 weeks (z=2.705, p=.011) after completing the program. Children with severe asthma showed the greatest improvement in knowledge and attitude scores. The participant's learning style had no effect on the child's knowledge and attitude score indicating Okay with AsthmaT is well suited for children with varying learning styles.

Conclusion: Since the goal of this project was to develop and pilot test an educational program for children with asthma that influences knowledge and attitude toward asthma, it is recommended that health care providers incorporate Okay with AsthmaT in their current asthma education program and refer children and families to the program at http://okay-with-asthma.org/index.html . The digital story program will be improved by incorporating more interactivity and a variety of story writing features so that children are interested in re-visiting the site multiple times. It is hypothesized that children who engage in story and story writing about asthma on an ongoing basis will have greater knowledge and improved attitude toward asthma over an extended period of time. Okay with AsthmaT will undergo more extensive studies to determine the duration of time that attitude change and increased knowledge can be sustained and the effects of more advanced interactivity in Okay with AsthmaT on knowledge, attitude and behavior.

Acknowledgements: This project was supported by grant number 5 F31 NRO7692 from the National Institute of Nursing Research and by a Sigma Theta Tau, Beta Kappa Chapter Verhonick Research Award.

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