Patients’ own asthma knowledge is strengthened with online training

Online training could improve asthma patients’ knowledge of their chronic disease just as well as conventional training, hinting at new approaches to future treatments.

Knowledge acquisition levels equal classroom training

A pilot study found that an Internet-based training program could improve asthma patients’ knowledge of their chronic disease just as well as conventional presence training, hinting at a new component of future asthma treatments.

Training programs, like medication, are an integral part of the recommended therapy for bronchial asthma. Those affected learn a lot about their chronic disease in order to be able to cope with their everyday life and manage the disease in the best possible way. Contents are, for example, the recognition of asthma symptoms indicating a worsening of asthma in order to adjust the therapy within a prudent timeframe. Emergency treatment and hospital stays can thus be demonstrably reduced and the patients' quality of life increased. As a rule, the training programs take place as face-to-face sessions in smaller groups.

Researchers at the Klinik Bad Reichenhall and the Munich Technical University (German acronym: TUM) have investigated whether an Internet-based asthma training program can be just as helpful as a conventional training program. Two groups of study participants were formed for the study. One group completed the internet training and then the classroom training. The control group only participated in conventional training. Subsequently, the increase in knowledge in both groups was compared using the German-language “Asthma Knowledge Test (known as the “Asthma-Wissenstest” or AWT).

Online training could be an alternative

The study showed that both the people engaging in online training those in the control group received a knowledge gain of four points in the AWT after the respective training was carried out. After the Internet group had also undergone face-to-face training, they were able to increase their knowledge by just under two additional AWT points compared to the persons who had only participated in conventional training.

The researchers, therefore, assume that an internet-based asthma training program could be helpful in providing patients with knowledge about asthma. This could be particularly interesting for people who cannot or do not want to attend face-to-face training courses. However, before the electronic training program can actually be introduced as a possible component of asthma therapy, the study authors stress that further studies with more participants are needed.

Kohler, B. et al.: An internet-based asthma self-management program increases knowledge about asthma - results of a randomized controlled trial. In: Deutsches Ärtzeblatt, 117: 64-71. DOI: 10.3238/arztebl.2020.0064