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Bridging the gap between respiratory research and health literacy: an interactive web-based platform
  1. Kelly Burrowes,
  2. Haribalan Kumar,
  3. Alys Clark,
  4. Taco de Wolff,
  5. Merryn Tawhai
  1. Auckland Bioengineering Institute, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
  1. Correspondence to Kelly Burrowes, Auckland Bioengineering House, 70 Symonds Street, Auckland 1010, New Zealand; k.burrowes{at}


Many patients with respiratory disease lack an understanding of basic respiratory physiology and the changes occurring in their lungs due to disease. Describing how the lungs work using realistic 3D visualisation of lung structure and function will improve communication of complicated concepts, resulting in improved health literacy. We developed a web-based platform, using anatomically realistic 3D lung models, to create an interactive visualisation tool to improve health literacy for patients with respiratory disease. A small amount of non-identifying personal information including gender, age, weight, height and smoking history can be used to customise the visualisation to an individual user. 3D computer modelling was used to create a web-based application that helps people understand how their lungs work in health and disease. The web-based application includes pages describing and visualising how the lungs work and the changes that occur during asthma and damage that smoking may be doing to their lungs. The application is freely available and located at This application bridges the gap between computational modelling and patient education, giving a visually compelling view into the patient’s body that cannot be provided with any existing tools, hence providing a novel platform for enhancing patient–clinician interaction.

  • Advanced Airway
  • Simulation Based Education
  • Technology/Devices/Software

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  • Contributors KSB: preparation of manuscript and figure, computational model building, design of webpage, proofreading and revision. HK: preparation of manuscript, design of webpage, proofreading and revision. ARC: preparation of manuscript, website design, computational model building. TdW: website design, webpage front end code development, writing the Methods section. MHT: preparation of manuscript, webpage design, computational model building.

  • Funding This work was funded by the HRC Tobacco Control Research Turanga and the Medical Technologies Centre of Research Excellence funded by the Tertiary Education Commission of New Zealand. The New Zealand HRC Programme grants are not issued with a grant award number because only about five are awarded annually. The Centres of Research Excellence are not issued with a grant award number because only 10 are awarded every 6–8 years.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available upon reasonable request.

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