A self-management program for adult asthma. III. Maintenance and relapse of skills

J Asthma. 2001 Jun;38(4):343-56. doi: 10.1081/jas-100000263.


Patient self-management programs have become an integral part of asthma treatment. The goal of such programs is to strengthen the partnership between patients and health care providers in controlling the condition. The present study analyzed how well patients maintained or relapsed in performing asthma self-management skills over time and across settings. It was conducted by contacting patients who had been involved in a successful self-management program an average of 6 years after their participation or an average of 7 years after they completed training. Seventy percent of the patients agreed to participate and complete, either by themselves or over the telephone, a structured interview regarding their experiences in performing asthma self-management. On the basis of their responses, 53 participants were categorized into two groups: continuers or relapsers, according to previously developed and published criteria for relapse. Characteristics that distinguished the two groups were described. As anticipated, those classified as continuers reportedly exhibited broader repertoires of self-management skills across an array of settings. They credited their performance with maintaining control over their asthma. However, two unexpected findings emerged in the study: First, all patients continued to use self-management skills to one degree or another 7 years after they had acquired these skills. Even patients who were categorized as relapsers regularly performed some self-management skills, often involving self-monitoring of their breathing. Second, half of the patients in the relapse group reported that their asthma was in remission and that they were asymptomatic. The self-management skills they reportedly used were performed to monitor and prevent a return of asthma.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Asthma / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Program Evaluation
  • Self Care*
  • Time Factors