Background: Viral airway infections are a major reason for doctor's visits at pre-school age, especially when associated with wheezing. While proper treatment requires adequate recognition of airway obstruction, caretakers are often struggling with this judgment, consequently leading to insufficient or late treatment and an unnecessary discomfort of the patient. Digital technologies may serve to support parental decision taking. The aim of the present pilot study is to acquire data on the feasibility of recruitment and observation procedures for a randomized controlled trial on the impact of a digital wheeze detector in a home management setting of pre-school wheezing.
Methods: This single-armed pilot study enrolled patients with a doctor's diagnosis of wheezing aged 9 to 72 months. Participants were asked to use a digital wheeze detector (WheezeScan, Omron Healthcare, Japan) 2x/day for 30 days and record the child's respiratory symptoms, detection of wheezing, and medication intake via an electronic diary (eDiary) app. Demographic and clinical data were collected at the recruitment visit. The asthma control test and the Parent Asthma Management Self-Efficacy Scale (PAMSES) were assessed both, at recruitment and follow-up.
Results: Twenty families were recruited and completed the monitoring. All but one completed the follow-up after 30 days. The recruitment procedures were feasible, and adherence to daily monitoring reached an average of 81%. The use of the wheeze detector was rated as uncomplicated. Parents detected wheezing without digital support in only 22/708 (3.1%) of the recorded events. By contrast, the wheeze detector indicated an airway obstruction in 140/708 (19.8%) of the recordings.
Conclusion: In parallel to feasible recruitment procedures, we observed good usability of the wheeze detection device and high adherence to eDiary recording. The positive outcomes show that the WheezeScan may empower parents by increasing their capacity for wheeze detection. This deserves to be investigated in a larger randomized controlled trial.