A program designed to teach self-management skills to asthmatic children and their parents was performed by a nurse-educator utilizing health education techniques. Goals included: (1) reduce frequency and severity of asthma; (2) reduce emergency room visits and hospitalizations; (3) reduce school absenteeism; (4) develop positive family self-help attitudes; and (5) incorporate patient-parent education in an office. After informed consent was obtained, 26 asthmatic children, aged 2 to 14 years, were selected and evaluated. Appropriate asthma management including avoidance, medications, and immunotherapy, if indicated, was initiated for both a study group (13 patients) and a comparison group (13 patients). Symptom and medication diaries were kept for six to 18 months. Educational intervention by a nurse-educator, including four hours of individual instruction, group classes, telephone access, and monitoring for the study patients, resulted in fewer hospitalizations and emergency room visits as compared to control patients, tenfold less school absenteeism, and fewer asthma attacks. Estimated hospital and emergency room costs were much less in the educated group. These results were accomplished by improving comprehension of and compliance with the medical management program by the study patients and their families; more medications were used and therapy for asthma was initiated earlier.

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