An evaluation of children's metered-dose inhaler technique for asthma medications

Nurs Clin North Am. 2005 Mar;40(1):167-82. doi: 10.1016/j.cnur.2004.08.010.


Regardless of the medication delivery system, health care providers need to teach accurate medication administration techniques to their patients, educate them about the particular nuances of the prescribed delivery system (eg, proper storage), and reinforce these issues at each health encounter. A single instruction session is not sufficient to maintain appropriate inhaler techniques for patients who require continued use. Providing written steps for the administration technique is helpful so that the patient can refer to them later when using the medication. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's "Practical Guide for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma" recommends that practitioners follow these steps for effective inhaler technique training when first prescribing an inhaler: 1. Teach patients the steps and give written instruction handouts. 2. Demonstrate how to use the inhaler step-by-step. 3. Ask patients to demonstrate how to use the inhaler. Let the patient refer to the handout on the first training. Then use the handout asa checklist to assess the patient's future technique. 4. Provide feedback to patients about what they did right and what they need to improve. Have patients demonstrate their technique again, if necessary. The last two steps should be performed (ie, demonstration and providing feedback on what patients did right and what they need to improve) at every subsequent visit. If the patient makes multiple errors, it is advisable to focus on improving one or two key steps at a time. With improvements in drug delivery come challenges, necessitating that practitioners stay current with new medication administration techniques. Teaching and reinforcing accurate technique at each health care encounter are critical to help ensure medication efficacy for patients with asthma. Since one fifth of children in the study performed incorrect medication technique even after education, checklists of steps for the correct use of inhalation devices, such as those provided in this article, should be given to patients for home use and for use by clinicians to evaluate patient technique at each health encounter.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Aerosols
  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Asthma / drug therapy*
  • Asthma / nursing
  • Asthma / psychology
  • Child
  • Equipment Design
  • Female
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medication Errors / methods*
  • Medication Errors / nursing
  • Medication Errors / psychology
  • Nebulizers and Vaporizers*
  • Nursing Assessment
  • Nursing Education Research
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods
  • Patient Education as Topic / standards*
  • Self Administration / methods*
  • Self Administration / nursing
  • Self Administration / standards
  • Teaching / methods
  • West Virginia


  • Aerosols
  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents