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'Secret agent' teaches children about asthma

Researchers have developed an interactive computer program to help children with asthma to learn about their condition.

Dr Amy McPherson and colleagues at the University of Nottingham compared the computer program – which uses a secret agent theme to educate children about causes, treatments and self-management –with an information booklet in 101 children aged seven to 14.

The program resulted in significantly greater increases in the children's knowledge and perception of asthma control.

Although there was no difference in lung function, the children who only received the booklet were more likely to need steroids and days off school.

Dr McPherson, who presented the results at the spring meeting of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health in York last week, said use of the program may result in more long-term clinical gain and could be used in GP clinics.

Dr Dermot Ryan, a GP in Loughborough, Leicester, and a co-author of the British Thoracic Society Asthma guidelines, welcomed the idea of educating children about their disease in fun way.

Dr Ryan said: 'Doctors tend to talk to parents and children's concerns are not

addressed.

'A program such as this will empower the child and make it exciting and the child can learn at their own pace.'

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