Breathe Easier Online: Evaluation of a Randomized Controlled Pilot Trial of an Internet-Based Intervention to Improve Well-being in Children and Adolescents With a Chronic Respiratory Condition

Peter Newcombe, Tamara Dunn, Leanne Casey, Jeanie Sheffield, Helen Petsky, Sophie Anderson-James, Anne Chang

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    Abstract

    Background: Chronic respiratory illnesses are the most common group of childhood chronic health conditions and are overrepresented in socially isolated groups.

    Objective: 
    To conduct a randomized controlled pilot trial to evaluate the efficacy of Breathe Easier Online (BEO), an Internet-based problem-solving program with minimal facilitator involvement to improve psychosocial well-being in children and adolescents with a chronic respiratory condition.

    Methods: 
    We randomly assigned 42 socially isolated children and adolescents (18 males), aged between 10 and 17 years to either a BEO (final n = 19) or a wait-list control (final n = 20) condition. In total, 3 participants (2 from BEO and 1 from control) did not complete the intervention. Psychosocial well-being was operationalized through self-reported scores on depression symptoms and social problem solving. Secondary outcome measures included self-reported attitudes toward their illness and spirometry results. Paper-and-pencil questionnaires were completed at the hospital when participants attended a briefing session at baseline (time 1) and in their homes after the intervention for the BEO group or a matched 9-week time period for the wait-list group (time 2).

    Results: 
    The two groups were comparable at baseline across all demographic measures (all F < 1). For the primary outcome measures, there were no significant group differences on depression (P = .17) or social problem solving (P = .61). However, following the online intervention, those in the BEO group reported significantly lower depression (P = .04), less impulsive/careless problem solving (P = .01), and an improvement in positive attitude toward their illness (P = .04) compared with baseline. The wait-list group did not show these differences. Children in the BEO group and their parents rated the online modules very favorably.

    Conclusions: 
    Although there were no significant group differences on primary outcome measures, our pilot data provide tentative support for the feasibility (acceptability and user satisfaction) and initial efficacy of an Internet-based intervention for improving well-being in children and adolescents with a chronic respiratory condition.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere23
    Pages (from-to)1-12
    Number of pages12
    JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
    Volume14
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2012

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