Generations of patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) have spent their childhoods fighting for breath and losing. Until recently, CF patients succumbed to this fatal, inherited lung disease as infants, young children or adolescents. With cutting-edge research spurring medical advances, each decade has shown improved survival, from a median life expectancy of 5 years in 1960, to 16 years in 1970, to 35 years today. Yet, the disease remains complex and adolescents with CF experience challenges that can reduce their adherence to treatment regimens and undermine their long-term well-being. Poor adherence to complicated life long treatments impacts a patient's health and burdens the medical system. Adolescents are particularly vulnerable to poor adherence and its high costs. Even adolescents who experience comparatively mild symptoms of CF must follow a 3-hour treatment regimen every day, and medical experts report that their adherence ranges from poor (50% doing less than prescribed airway clearance regimen) to very poor (30% not doing any prescribed treatments). CF can cause a host of social-emotional stressors, including uncertainty about the future, poor self-image, low self-esteem, and frustration with delayed growth/maturation all of which can impede adherence. Absences from school, being teased, keeping their illness secret, and lack of access to peers with CF due to risk of infection leave many adolescents with CF feeling isolated and alone. Due to parent over-protection and medical services that focus on symptoms, these patients often lack supportive coaching on issues (e.g., alcohol-and tobacco-related risks, sexual health, infection control, pain control, career prospects) that can impact the quality of their life. This Phase I application proposes to test the feasibility of producing an innovative learning and support program that will provide 11 year-old to15 year-old adolescents with CF with health information and social support opportunities. The program, called CFFONE: A Cell Phone Support Program for Adolescents with Cystic Fibrosis, will make use of cutting-edge technology-a broadband capable, cellular telephone keyed into a highly interactive informational web site. This web site will provide engaging, adolescent-tailored online learning activities and resources specific to adolescents with CF. We believe the information and activities contained in CFFONE will improve users'knowledge, attitudes, and practices around CF and we hypothesize that adolescents exposed to the intervention will demonstrate an increase in adherence to their treatment regimens. A recent National Institutes for Health solicitation for research to improve self-management and quality of life in children and adolescents with chronic diseases stated that, """"""""Children with a chronic disease face a lifetime of careful health management requirements and lifestyle adaptations to prevent or manage related health complications. Interventions that make a difference in childhood disease self-management may set the stage for health outcomes later in life."""""""" (2003) We believe that CFFONE, with its innovative approach for enhancing self-management, has the potential to make that kind of difference in the lives of adolescents with cystic fibrosis.
Adolescents with cystic fibrosis are particularly vulnerable to poor adherence, which negatively impacts their health status, quality of life and long term survival. CFFONE: A Cell Phone Support Program for Adolescents with Cystic Fibrosis will make use of cutting-edge technology- a broadband capable, cellular telephone keyed into a highly-interactive informational web site. This web site will provide engaging online learning activities and resources specific to adolescents with cystic fibrosis. We believe the information and activities contained in CFFONE will improve adolescents knowledge, attitudes, and practices around cystic fibrosis and that adolescents exposed to the CFFONE program will demonstrate an increase in adherence to their treatment regimens and related improvements in their health status and quality of life.