Background: Respiratory symptoms associated with allergy and asthma cause substantial health care burden.
Objective: This observational pilot study compared internal medicine/family practice (IM/FP) and pediatric primary care providers with allergists in the diagnosis, treatment, and health-related quality of life (HRQL) outcomes of adults and children with respiratory symptoms.
Methods: Two allergists, 2 IM/FP, and 2 pediatricians enrolled 242 patients with respiratory symptoms ages 5 to 16 years old (n = 123) and 17 to 70 years old (n = 119). HRQL questionnaires were completed at enrollment and quarterly for 1 year. The adult questionnaire included SF-36, respiratory symptom role productivity, ITG Asthma Short Form, and allergy symptom index (ASI) scales. The child questionnaire included CHQ-PF28, respiratory symptom family impact, ITG Child Asthma Short Form, and ASI scales. HRQL changes were evaluated over the study period.
Results: Adults treated by allergists reported significantly greater improvement in HRQL on 5 of 8 SF-36 scales, the respiratory symptom role productivity scale, 3 of 5 ITG Asthma Short Form scales, and 2 of 4 ASI scales compared with adults treated by an IM/FP (P < 0.05). Pediatric patients treated by allergists had significantly greater improvement on 3 of 15 CHQ-PF28 scales, the respiratory symptom family impact scale, and one ASI scale compared with patients treated by pediatricians (P < 0.05).
Conclusions: Compared with patients treated by primary care physicians, patients treated by allergists reported greater improvement in HRQL in a number of scales. Additional research is required to further evaluate the impact of provider specialty and patterns of care on outcomes of respiratory symptoms patients.