Iggy and the Inhalers

Novel Patient Education You Can Do Yourself

Iggy and the Inhalers
Iggy and the Inhalers. Booster Shot Comics

Have you ever struggled talking with your child about asthma? I remember a mother who called me in tears because she could not get her child on board with their prescribed asthma treatment. Her child seemed to be doing everything to sabotage care— would not tell mom when symptoms were getting worse, would not take medications correctly, and pretty much did the opposite of everything Mom asked her to do.

This is not uncommon. Many studies have demonstrated that poor compliance with asthma medication leads to poor asthma control. As many as 70% of patients may not take their medication regularly.

As a parent you may have seen your child struggle from being different or not wanting to let others know about their asthma. Your child does not like having asthma and really does not like many of the things they need to do to get control of their asthma. This could be how Iggy and Inhalers might help you. Booster Shot Comics has developed novel and innovative comics and videos that make asthma education fun and appealing to your child.

The general idea is that through stories your child can learn more.

Why Does It Work?

Everyone likes a story. Think about your experience at the grocery store. How many times have you found yourself at the end of the checkout line trying to read though something that got your attention?

When I sat down and looked at things that I read to completion, almost all of them began with a story. The story sucks you in and you are more likely to learn something.

The Iggy and the Inhalers comics and videos do this very well.

In the Iggy series, the ancient story telling technique of Good versus Evil is used to teach your child the importance of taking your medications and avoiding triggers.

In this series your asthma medications are always the good, hero type, while the triggers are the evil villain. Multiple health literacy studies have shown that images plus text are not only better understood by patients, but preferred as a health communication strategy. The research group that I am a member of has demonstrated that parents prefer easier to read patient information pamphlets and understood them better. Additionally, the research group has demonstrated similar finding in consents for participating in clinical trials.

Anthropomorphized Medications

One problem we face in asthma is that the drug delivery devices or inhalers all look the same. The problem is that we have rescue inhalers and controller medications that are very similar in appearance. In the Iggy series the creators do some neat things to have you see and experience the differences in medication. By creating medications into characters, kids can identify with (anthropomorphizing) the characters. The characters' physical traits resemble the medications mechanism of action.

These features may lead to greater understanding.

In order to tell and demonstrate the different purposes of different medication types, Broncho the Bronchodilator and Coltron the Controller look different, have different personalities, and act differently. Broncho the Bronchodilator lassos airways to quickly wrangle them under control while Coltron the Controller sprays our his medication slowly to decrease inflammation of important asthma knowledge.

Does It Really Work?

At the 2014 Comics & Medicine conference, Booster Shot Comics presented results from 2014 Madison Asthma Camp that these sort of educational techniques led to increases in asthma knowledge in a pre camp/ post camp assessment.

It seems to me that this is a great way to educate kids about asthma despite a lack of formal evidence related to efficacy. As a parent, your primary care giver may not have a lot of available asthma education resources. As a parent you can watch the video and the comics and do a lot of the education yourself or use the materials as a refresher. 


  • American Lung Association. Asthma. Accessed July 29, 2014.

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