Bauman et al. (1997) reviewed 15 studies (11 using a randomized, controlled design) with a range of interventions (e.g., social support, coping skills, relaxation), most of which included some form of patient education. The sample included children ages 0-21 years old with a diverse group of general medical illnesses (e.g., asthma, cancer, epilepsy). There was a significant change in at least one outcome measure in 67% (n =15) of studies reviewed. There was significant improvement in self-esteem, self-efficacy, or social competence in four studies, with one study showing improvement in locus of control and another improvement in family functioning. Children with cancer showed a significant improvement in the knowledge and self-management of their disease as well as increased support and coordination of care.

In a comprehensive meta-analytic study of 32 controlled clinical trials using educational interventions for self-management in children with asthma, education was associated with moderate improvement in pulmonary function, self-efficacy, school absences, and emergency department visits (Guevara et al. 2003). The effects on asthma-related morbidity were greatest in children with more severe asthma.

In a review of 12 studies using psychoeducational interventions across a variety of pediatric physical illnesses, there was evidence of effectiveness of interventions that had a cognitive behavioral component on outcomes such as self-efficacy, disease management, family functioning, psychosocial well-being, and competence (Barlow and Ellard 2004). Psychoeducational interventions included written information, interactive computer learning models, social skills, and disease management training.

Education has resulted in pain reduction for chronic headaches, improved lung function, decreased school absenteeism for asthma, and improved metabolic control in diabetes. No reviews of psychoeducational interventions were found for either parents or siblings. One small open trial found a peer support camp for siblings of children with cancer in Australia reported decreased anxiety and fear of disease as well as improved social competence and acceptance (Sidhu et al. 2006). Randomized, controlled trials with active comparison groups are needed to confirm the efficacy of these interesting preliminary findings.

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