At the completion of the program, parents reported that children in the treatment group had 34 percent fewer asthma-related absences than children in the control group. However, school absence records, which do not account for the cause of absences, showed no significant difference in absences between the groups. In addition, science grades for treatment children were significantly higher than grades for control children, while all other academic grades remained similar between the groups. Results were based on school records and parent and caregiver interviews at the beginning of the program and at 12 and 24 months after intervention.
"Our intervention techniques included age-appropriate lessons related to physiology and lung function, which may have helped to improve science grades for treatment children," said Dr. Clark. "It also is possible that the deductive nature of the program activities may have enhanced the ability of the children to address science problems in general."
In regard to asthma symptoms, children in the treatment group experienced 17 percent fewer days with asthma symptoms than the control group. In addition, children in the treatment group with persistent asthma had 15 percent fewer nighttime symptoms than the control group; however, children in the treatment group with mild periodic asthma showed a 40 percent increase in nighttime symptoms. Results also showed that parents whose children were participating in the program took additional and more frequent steps to manage their child's asthma than parents of children in the control group.
"Asthma symptoms that are mild and sporadic may be less noticeable to family members," said Dr. Clark. "Families involved in the asthma program may have been more aware of their child's nighttime symptoms and therefore more likely to report them."