BACKGROUND: Telemedicine is increasingly used to improve health outcomes in asthma. However, it is still inconclusive which telemedicine works effectively.
OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to determine the effects of telemedicine on asthma control and the quality of life in adults.
METHODS: An electronic search was performed from the inception to March 2018 on the following databases: Cochrane CENTRAL, CINAHL, ClinicalTrials.gov, EMBASE, PubMed, and Scopus. Randomized controlled trials that assessed the effects of telemedicine in adults with asthma were included in this analysis, and the outcomes of interest were levels of asthma control and quality of life. Random-effects model meta-analyses were performed.
RESULTS: A total of 22 studies (10,281 participants) were included. Each of 11 studies investigated the effects of single-telemedicine and combined-telemedicine (combinations of telemedicine approaches), and the meta-analyses showed that combined tele-case management could significantly improve asthma control compared with usual care (standardized mean difference [SMD] = 0.78; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.56, 1.01). Combined tele-case management and tele-consultation (SMD = 0.52 [95% CI: 0.13, 0.91]) and combined tele-consultation (SMD = 0.28 [95% CI: 0.13, 0.44]) also significantly improved asthma outcomes, but to a lesser degree. In addition, combined tele-case management (SMD = 0.59 [95% CI: 0.31, 0.88]) was the most effective telemedicine for improving quality of life, followed by combined tele-case management and tele-consultation (SMD = 0.31 [95% CI: 0.03, 0.59]), tele-case management (SMD = 0.30 [95% CI: 0.05, 0.55]), and combined tele-consultation (SMD = 0.27 [95% CI: 0.11, 0.43]), respectively.
CONCLUSIONS: Combined-telemedicine involving tele-case management or tele-consultation appear to be effective telemedicine interventions to improve asthma control and quality of life in adults. Our findings are expected to provide health care professionals with current evidence of the effects of telemedicine on asthma control and patients' quality of life.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.