STAAR: a randomised controlled trial of electronic adherence monitoring with reminder alarms and feedback to improve clinical outcomes for children with asthma

Morton RW, Elphick HE, Rigby AS, et al. STAAR: a randomised controlled trial of electronic adherence monitoring with reminder alarms and feedback to improve clinical outcomes for children with asthma. Thorax 2017;72:347-354

Background Suboptimal adherence to inhaled steroids is common in children with asthma and is associated with poor disease control, reduced quality of life and even death. Previous studies using feedback of electronically monitored adherence data have demonstrated improved adherence, but have not demonstrated a significant impact on clinical outcomes. The aim of this study was to determine whether introduction of this approach into routine practice would result in improved clinical outcomes.

Methods Children with asthma aged 6–16 years were randomised to the active intervention consisting of electronic adherence monitoring with daily reminder alarms together with feedback in the clinic regarding their inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) use or to the usual care arm with adherence monitoring alone. All children had poorly controlled asthma at baseline, taking ICS and long-acting β-agonists. Subjects were seen in routine clinics every 3 months for 1 year. The primary outcome was the Asthma Control Questionnaire (ACQ) score. Secondary outcomes included adherence and markers of asthma morbidity.

Results 77 of 90 children completed the study (39 interventions, 38 controls). Adherence in the intervention group was 70% vs 49% in the control group (p≤0.001). There was no significant difference in the change in ACQ, but children in the intervention group required significantly fewer courses of oral steroids (p=0.008) and fewer hospital admissions (p≤0.001).

Conclusions The results indicate that electronic adherence monitoring with feedback is likely to be of significant benefit in the routine management of poorly controlled asthmatic subjects

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