Objectives. To evaluate the effects of an automated interactive voice response system (IVR) and Specialist Nurse Support to reduce health care utilization and improve health-related quality of life in children with asthma. Study Design. A randomized controlled trial in 121 children with doctor-diagnosed asthma and an acute presentation with asthma in the previous 12 months aged between 3 and 16 years. Children were randomized to one of three groups for a 6-month intervention receiving asthma education and magement support from a Specialist Nurse by telephone or e-mail (N = 41), from IVR (N = 39), or receiving usual care (control group; N = 41). Outcomes included health care utilization and use of oral steroid rescue. Health-related quality of life (HRQOL) data using the Pediatric Asthma Quality of Life Questionire and Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory were collected at baseline and at the end of the study. Results: There was no statistically significant benefit identified for either the IVR or the Nurse Support interventions for health care utilization, use of oral steroid rescue, or HRQOL compared with controls. Relative to controls, the incremental costs were -A$225.73 (95% confidence interval [CI]: -A$840, A$391) per child for the Nurse Support intervention and -A$451.45 (-A$1075, A$173) per child for IVR. The results were most sensitive to the frequency of admissions to hospital. Conclusion. This study suggested that both IVR and Nurse Support interventions may be cost-saving from a health system perspective, with IVR providing the greatest benefit and this pilot study provides a strong basis for developing larger trials with longer follow-up.
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