Barriers in the management of asthma and attitudes towards complementary medicine

Respir Med. 2002 Oct;96(10):835-40. doi: 10.1053/rmed.2002.1368.


Background: Undertreatment is said to be an important problem for those with asthma. Misconceptions regarding the nature and treatment of asthma may contribute to this. This study was planned to evaluate the perception of those with asthma about various aspects of their condition.

Methods: A total of 1012 patients with asthma volunteered to complete the questionnaire. Questions included those regarding severity, nature, regularity of use of medicine and attitudes towards trying complementary medicine. Forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) was measured to assess the severity of airway obstruction.

Results: Only 9% of patients took treatment for asthma according to the advice of the doctor. The remainder reported stopping treatment when they became free of symptoms or were able to tolerate their symptoms. A majority of the patients had moderately severe airway obstruction as determined by spirometer and reported being unable to assess the severity of their disease with only 11.9% reporting that they could perceive the warning symptoms of an acute attack. Seventy-nine percent of the patients had used complementary medicine. Home remedies, such as tea, hot water, walking, ginger and turmeric, were perceived to provide relief in asthma.

Conclusion: Patients with asthma have many barriers in the way of optimal treatment. These include a failure to recognize warning symptoms, belief in a permanent cure; not continuing treatment for as long as needed; and, an inclination to seek complimentary medicines.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Asthma / drug therapy
  • Asthma / psychology
  • Asthma / therapy*
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Complementary Therapies / psychology*
  • Complementary Therapies / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • India
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Compliance
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents