Objectives: To compare knowledge and attitudes about asthma, self-management skills and impact of asthma on quality of life between patients managed in general practice (GP) and in a hospital clinic.
Design: Cross-sectional survey with six months' follow-up.
Patients and setting: 105 adults with asthma: 61 from the Alfred Hospital Asthma and Allergy Clinic, Melbourne, and 44 from nearby general practices, in 1994-1995.
Main outcome measures: Patient sociodemographic and clinical characteristics; patient knowledge, attitudes and beliefs about asthma; self-management skills; and impact of asthma on quality of life.
Results: GP patients were more educated (P = 0.04) and more likely to smoke (P = 0.04) and to have mild asthma (P = 0.04) than hospital patients; they were less likely to use theophylline (P = 0.006) and to have exercise limitation (P = 0.03), and had fewer previous hospital admissions (P = 0.01). Impact of asthma on quality of life was greater in the hospital group than in the GP group. At baseline, the GP group were less likely to have written asthma action plans (P = 0.018), and were less able to manage rapid onset attacks than the hospital group (P = 0.02). More subjects in the hospital group than the GP group felt their asthma was severe (P = 0.02) and were optimistic about their asthma improving (P = 0.03). GP patients increased their knowledge about asthma significantly (P = 0.002) over six months.
Conclusions: Patients with asthma managed in general practice and in hospital differ in clinical parameters, quality of life and attitudes to asthma. Future educational initiatives should take such differences into account.