How does patient education and self-management among asthmatics and patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease affect medication?

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 1999 Dec;160(6):2000-5. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm.160.6.9901028.


The effect of patient education on steroid inhaler compliance and rescue medication utilization in patients with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has not been previously investigated in a single study. We randomized 78 asthmatics and 62 patients with COPD after ordinary outpatient management. Intervention consisted of two 2-h group sessions and 1 to 2 individual sessions by a trained nurse and physiotherapist. A self-management plan was developed. We registered for 12 mo medication dispensed from pharmacies according to the Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical (ATC) classification index. Steroid inhaler compliance (SIC) was defined as (dispensed/prescribed) x 100 and being compliant as SIC > 75%. Among asthmatics 32% and 57% were compliant (p = 0.04) with a median (25th/75th percentiles) SIC of 55% (27/96) and 82% (44/127) (p = 0.08) in the control and intervention groups, respectively. Patient education did not seem to change SIC in the COPD group. Uneducated patients with COPD were dispensed double the amount of short-acting inhaled beta(2)-agonists compared with the educated group (p = 0.03). We conclude that patient education can change medication habits by reducing the amount of short-acting inhaled beta(2)-agonists being dispensed among patients with COPD. Educated asthmatics showed improved steroid inhaler compliance compared with the uneducated patients, whereas this seemed unaffected by education in the COPD group.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists / administration & dosage
  • Adult
  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Asthma / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Glucocorticoids / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Compliance
  • Patient Education as Topic*
  • Self Care*


  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists
  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents
  • Glucocorticoids