Wiki Your Way to Better Asthma Management

Asthma action plan website could improve symptom management

(RxWiki News) Asthma action plans are a valuable asset for managing symptoms. A community-based wiki may allow even more asthma sufferers to use an action plan that's right for them.

An asthma action plan is usually a set of instructions written by your doctor to help manage symptoms and medication usage.

Researchers believe that if a asthma plan is poorly written or confusing, the asthma sufferer would not use it. Creating a community approach and have asthma sufferers collaborate and write an asthma action plan could improve asthma symptom management.

"Ask your doctor about ways to manage asthma symptoms."

The study was led by Dr. Samir Gupta, a respirologist at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto. At St. Michael's, Dr. Gupta developed an asthma action plan wiki, a website that allows a community to write and develop the content, with asthma patients and respirologists.

According to Dr. Gupta, "55 participants, including 21 patients with asthma in the wiki stage" were involved in the wiki project at St. Michael's. Users could choose how the content was displayed, vote on asthma action plan choices as well as blog and comment about plan choices. This allowed for greater interaction by the asthma sufferer.

Letting asthma sufferers engage and interact with other asthma sufferers could lead to more individuals understanding what an asthma action plan is and, eventually, improve management of asthma symptoms. Asthma sufferers could feel like they are in control and if they were uncertain about ways to manage symptoms, they could ask doctors or other asthma sufferers questions about their asthma action plan.

According to Dr. Gupta, the individuals involved with the wiki were very engaged. This included frequent logging in, extensive comments on blog posts and active communication across the wiki. Asthma sufferers can access and interact with the wiki at home or on the road.

Dailyrx had a chance to Dr. Gupta who said "The wiki tool helped us to figure out what patients want most in an action plan, and how they want it to look and flow."

For the future, the wiki can be used to create a digital asthma action plan. "Our next step is happening now - we are taking these preferences and building an electronic action plan right into an electronic medical record," says Dr. Gupta, "so that it generates automatically every time the patient is seen in the doctor's office. This way the doctor can easily and efficiently deliver a personalized action plan to the patient." This can lead to more engaged and confident asthma sufferers.

"Asthma sufferers can be empowered to manage their own disease," notes Dr. Gupta, "We will be testing the effect of this technology on patients' asthma symptoms. This study is taking place in a large family practice in Hamilton, Canada."

A community-based approach to asthma action plans could be effective in getting more asthma sufferers to have an action plan that will lead to better symptom management. Future studies could expand the scope, including increasing the number of asthma patients involved. Adherence to an action plan can help determine if a wiki increases the number of asthma sufferers with an asthma plan and if the wiki is a useful tool that allows asthma sufferers to follow the plan.

No funding information was provided.

This study was published in the March edition of the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

Review Date: 
March 14, 2012