Caregiver knowledge and delivery of a commonly prescribed medication (albuterol) for children

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1999 Jun;153(6):615-8. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.153.6.615.


Objective: To evaluate caregiver knowledge and delivery of a prescription medication (albuterol) for children.

Design: Prospective convenience sample.

Participants: Caregivers listing albuterol as one of their child's medications.

Setting: Two urban, university-affiliated pediatric emergency departments.

Interventions: Caregivers were asked about their knowledge of the medication, the child's dose, frequency, duration of use, and where it was prescribed. In a mock scenario, they measured and demonstrated medication delivery to their child. Common measuring devices and formulations were offered.

Results: Forty-one caregivers were enrolled. Thirty-six (88%) were high school educated and 39 (95%) had a primary care provider. Twenty-six (63%) were out of medication, 7 (17%) stated an incorrect dose, 18 (44%) reported an incorrect frequency, and 10 (24%) stated an inadequate duration of use. Formulations chosen were liquid (n = 15, 37%), nebulizers (n= 15, 37%), and inhalers (n = 11, 27%). Metered dosing (metered-dosing inhaler or premixed solution) were chosen by 22 caregivers (54%), calibrated measuring tools (droppers, syringes) by 15 (37%), and noncalibrated delivery devices (teaspoon) by 4 (10%). An improper dose was measured by 9 (22%), and the dose intended was inaccurately measured by 7 (17%). All caregivers using a teaspoon inaccurately measured their intended dose of the liquid formulation.

Conclusions: Metered dosing and calibrated measuring devices aided in the accurate delivery of this prescription medication. However, considerable concern exists with the use of noncalibrated measuring devices (teaspoons), improper frequency, and duration of use. Refilling of medication was also a concern since 63% were out of albuterol. Caregiver education on use, delivery, and refilling of medications must be stressed and assessed at all emergency department and primary care visits. In addition, metered dosing and the use of calibrated measuring devices should be encouraged.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Albuterol / administration & dosage*
  • Asthma / drug therapy*
  • Bronchodilator Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Caregivers*
  • Child
  • Educational Status
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Georgia
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Medication Errors*
  • Nebulizers and Vaporizers
  • Prospective Studies
  • Self Administration
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Urban Population


  • Bronchodilator Agents
  • Albuterol