Background: The Finnish National Asthma Programme was launched in 1994.
Aim: A postal self-completion questionnaire study was undertaken to evaluate how the guideline is working in the Finnish healthcare system.
Methods: A postal inquiry was sent to a random sample of 6,000 subjects aged 16+ years who were entitled to special reimbursement for anti-asthmatic medication and 4,657 subjects with self-reported asthma were included.
Results: The subjects comprised 38% men (n=1,781) and 62% women (n=2,876). In all, 62% of all the subjects and 78% of those with severe asthma had visited a doctor on account of asthma in the past 12 months. Some 83% of the respondents had a given physician who was responsible for treating their asthma, and 75% of these were under observation by a primary healthcare physician. Visits to asthma nurses were relatively rare. Inhaled glucocorticoids were used by 83% of the subjects, but short-acting beta-2-agonists were still the most commonly used asthma drug in monotherapy regardless of the severity of asthma. Inhaled glucocorticoids and a short-acting beta-2-agonist was the most frequent combination. Every tenth subject used this combination supplemented by a long-acting beta-2-agonist.
Conclusion: Asthma care in Finland seems to be compatible with the national guidelines in terms of continuity and the common use of inhaled glucocorticoids. The primary care sector has adopted the main responsibility for the treatment of asthma. The common use of short-acting beta-2-agonists is an exception to an otherwise positive trend.
Copyright 2004 Taylor & Francis