New asthma app to increase health literacy

Thanks to a new interactive app, learning about asthma has just become a lot easier for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and health practitioners.

The app, produced by Menzies' Child Health Division, uses interactive images, audio and quizzes to teach people about asthma and is available in eight different languages used in northern and central Australia.

Languages included in the app include English, Tiwi, Murrinh Patha, Yolngu Matha, Kriol, Ptijantatjara, Western Arrernte and Warlpiri.

The asthma app is the first of a suite of respiratory-health educational apps called “Lung Health for Kids” and was developed with funding from Asthma Australia, The Centre for Research Excellence in Respiratory Health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children and Queensland Health.

Menzies senior research fellow and project lead Dr Gabrielle McCallum says the asthma app is an innovative way to help people access important information about asthma in their home and at their own pace.

“The team evaluated the app with 80 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander carers from the Northern Territory and Queensland and found that knowledge of asthma significantly improved after using the asthma app, particularly how asthma is treated and the steps in first aid,” Dr McCallum said.

“Health care professionals also described the app as an innovative and effective method of providing asthma education to culturally and linguistically diverse groups.”

CEO of Asthma Australia Michele Goldman said a core focus of their research program was to support projects that translate into real-world outcomes for people with asthma.

“We are very proud to be a partner in this app. It is evidence-based and tailored in a meaningful way to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to live better with their asthma. It will deliver better outcomes for people and that’s what we strive to achieve,” she said.

Larrakia Elder and Chair of the Menzies Child Health Indigenous Reference Group, Aunty Bilawara Lee says that due to the coronavirus pandemic the app is now even more important for families.

“Getting information about how to keep asthma in check out to community is very important right now. The threat of coronavirus means that good lung health is critical in preventing a disaster from happening,” Aunty Bilawara Lee said.

Other apps to be released in the future focus on bronchiolitis, pneumonia and chronic suppurative lung disease/bronchiectasis. The app is available now on both Google Play and the Apple Store.