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Wolfson Institute of Population Health

New Cochrane Review shows digital tools may cut asthma attacks by half

Digital interventions, such as ‘smart’ inhalers or text messages that help people to administer their asthma medication more appropriately, may cut the risk of asthma attacks by half, according to a new Cochrane Review.

Logo for the Cochrane Library, including the tagline

The evidence review, examining 40 randomised controlled trials over more than 50 years across four continents, with data from over 15,000 people with asthma, found that digital interventions improve medication adherence by 15%, and can yield a clinically-significant improvement in asthma control. Study participants used digital tools to support taking maintenance asthma medications for long-term control of symptoms and prevention of attacks. Smart inhalers and text messages were more effective than other types of digital interventions for improving medication administration, while interventions that included an in-person element also seemed to yield greater benefits for asthma control. The review was produced by researchers at UCL, QMUL, and the University of Auckland. Co-authors Anna De Simoni and Chris Griffiths, both UK practicing GPs said: “The evidence in this review gives us more confidence to discuss the use of digital interventions, and has shown us that electronic adherence monitors and text messages can help patients control their asthma better.”

Chan A, De Simoni A, Wileman V, Holliday L, Chisari C, Newby CJ, Griffiths CJ, Ali S, Padakanti P, Zhu N, Ting V, Pinprachanan V. Digital interventions to improve adherence to maintenance medication in asthma. 



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