Problems with inhaler use: a call for improved clinician and patient education

Respir Care. 2005 Oct;50(10):1360-74; discussion 1374-5.


Patient education is a critical factor in the use and misuse of medication inhalers. Inhalers represent advanced technology that is considered so easy to use that many patients and clinicians do not receive adequate training in their use. Between 28% and 68% of patients do not use metered-dose inhalers or powder inhalers well enough to benefit from the prescribed medication, and 39-67% of nurses, doctors, and respiratory therapists are unable to adequately describe or perform critical steps for using inhalers. Of an estimated 25 billion dollars spent for inhalers annually, 5-7 billion dollars is wasted because of inhaler misuse. Reimbursement and teaching strategies to improve patient education could substantially reduce these wasted resources. Problems with inhaler use, the cost of inhalers, and myths associated with inhalers are reviewed, with recommendations for strategies and techniques to better educate patients in inhaler use.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Aerosols / administration & dosage*
  • Asthma / drug therapy*
  • Bronchodilator Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Clinical Competence
  • Humans
  • Metered Dose Inhalers
  • Nebulizers and Vaporizers*
  • Patient Education as Topic*


  • Aerosols
  • Bronchodilator Agents