EFFICASTHME – French app helps parents cope with children’s asthma attacks

Researchers in France, with the support of EU-funding, have developed Effic’Asthme, an innovative smartphone application that provides parents of asthmatic children with intuitive training on managing the condition.

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A screenshot from the Effic’Asthme application ©Effic’Asthme A screenshot from the Effic’Asthme application ©Effic’Asthme

" Our aim is to better train parents to decrease the number of asthma attacks in preschool children that evolve to severe respiratory distress and require hospital admission. "

Dr David Drummond, Paediatrician, iLumens, Paris Descartes University, Necker-Enfants Malades Hospital

Worldwide, asthma is the most common chronic disease in children. For those age five and younger, the disease is the cause of frequent attacks. In many cases, they are so severe that parents must rush their child to an emergency room.

The good news is that medical researchers are learning that such severe asthma attacks are preventable. The key to doing so is early management. Unfortunately, 80 % of parents do not know how to properly manage an asthma attack. Although hospitals offer asthma education programmes, many parents are unable to attend due to scheduling.

This project addressed the challenge of asthma education by providing the necessary training at home. The outcome was Effic’Asthme, a mobile app developed to train parents on how to manage asthma attacks in their young children. It can be used from anywhere and at any time, thus overcoming the accessibility barrier that has plagued traditional asthma education programmes. 

Understanding symptoms through gamification

The application uses gamification to teach the caregivers about the symptoms of a severe asthma attack. The game simulates different scenarios. For each scenario, the parent must identify the symptoms and determine its severity. Next, the parent is asked to respond to the attack with the appropriate level of care and using the same treatment that the child would require in real life. After each round, the app provides the parent with tips on how to better manage future asthma attacks.

Using the Effic’Asthme app, parents gain a better understanding of the common signs that could indicate their child is likely to have an asthma attack – and how to react. The aim is to give parents confidence in identifying and managing asthma attacks to prevent their children from being hospitalised.

The first of its kind

Since its launch in February 2019, the app has been downloaded over 3 000 times. It has been adopted by the Necker-Enfants Malades University Hospital’s asthma school.

The application is the first of its kind geared towards asthma education and is available for download, free of charge, by parents of preschool children with asthma in France. It is available for both iOS and Android devices. An English version is being finalised, with additional language variations planned.

Researchers are currently planning a randomised controlled trial to determine whether the use of the application can effectively decrease demand on emergency room and hospital resources. 

Beneficiaries

"Thanks to the mobile App Effic'Asthme, I feel much more confident when I have to manage the asthma attacks of Gabriel, my three-year-old-son." 

 

Emeline d'Angelo, Gabriel's mother.

 

"I feel it is very difficult to recognise an asthma attack in my young child. Last year, my doctor asked me to bring my child to the emergency department whereas I did not notice any symptoms except a cough. Effic'Asthme trained me to recognise the different symptoms, and I feel less anxious when a new asthma attack occurs." 

 

Anonymous mother of a two-year-old child.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Effic’Asthme” is EUR 263 802, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 105 500 through the “Île-de-France et Seine” Operational Programme for the 2014-2020 programming period.