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their healthcare professionals. This finding is
consistent with other studies which showed
that patients have expressed their interest
in receiving guidance from their doctors
for reliable websites.47--49 Respondents also
agreed that online education at home
would be helpful. Hence, developing
quality, well-designed websites to educate
people with asthma and which enable
self-management is highly recommended.
Such websites would allow people with
asthma to gain access to online education
at any time of the day or night, regardless
of geographic location. Given that asthma
is a chronic disease with intermittent
episodes, readily-accessible and reliable
self-management resources are critical.
Pharmacists' accessibility and status within the
community places them in a good position to
advise and support patients in this regard.
Furthermore, respondents from the present
study looked for information about the
nature and characteristics of asthma,
asthma medications and its management.
Providing these crucial information needs
would benefit from input by pharmacists in
the creation and maintenance of information
on a website to verify that the information
is as up to date, accurate and appropriate as
possible. Several authors of other studies have
recommended that healthcare professionals
should be involved in the content
development of healthcare websites.46--48
The internet's potential is not limited to
delivering education information to the
target audience. Several randomised-
controlled trials have been carried out to
evaluate the effectiveness of internet-based
asthma management.19--23,50 These trials
constituted remote monitoring, which allows
patients to upload their daily symptoms to
be reviewed by healthcare professionals.
The present study suggests that most
respondents who had searched the internet
for asthma information were receptive to
the idea of remote monitoring. In addition,
online remote monitoring could also help
healthcare professionals to obtain a clear
view of patents' asthma symptom history.
The study had several limitations.
It represents a sample of asthma patients
presenting at a pharmacy in a metropolitan
city or from a research centre database.
Therefore the results should be interpreted
with care for other settings. The sample size
was relatively small and not representative
of the population. Additionally, responses
were based on self-report and patients'
actual internet use could not be verified.
Whilst the survey items were drawn from
previously published studies, the validity
and reproducibility of the survey was not
established. It is also possible that people
who had no interest in the internet were
less likely to respond, resulting in an
overestimation of the extent of access to
the internet, and internet use for health and
The results of this study suggest that
asthma websites can be helpful for people
with asthma. Pharmacists' expertise could
make a valuable contribution to the design
and recommendation of such websites.
This would raise the trustworthiness
of these websites in the eyes of people
In addition, a recommendation by
pharmacists may also lead to respondents'
receptivity to internet-based asthma
management. More studies should be
carried out in the future to investigate online
management for people with asthma.
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