Background: Optimal control is a major objective of disease management of asthma. The aim of the present study was to provide descriptive data on disease management in asthma patients, including medical resource utilization.
Methods: Asthma patients (age 18-50 years) were consecutively recruited in 348 dispensing pharmacies. They completed a questionnaire which collected data on personal characteristics, asthma management, including medical resource utilization, including asthma management. Asthma control was measured with the Asthma Control Test. Data from computerized pharmacy records of medications, dispensed before inclusion, were also collected.
Results: In 1791 eligible patients, 1559 accepted to participate in the study (mean age = 36.5, 56.1% of females). During the previous 4 weeks, the asthma control was satisfactory for only 28% of the patients, despite extensive provision of anti-inflammatory asthma control treatments (89%). Combinations of long acting beta agonists (LABA) and inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) were commonly used (59%), while fewer patients received LABA and ICS as two separate medications (15%). In addition, short-acting beta agonists, were frequently dispensed (71%). A substantial number of patients consulted their GPs on a monthly basis. Patients commonly reported daily shortness of breath (30%), daily use of rescue medication (29%) and weekly nocturnal symptoms (32%). Surprisingly, most patients considered their asthma as completely or well controlled (76%).
Conclusions: Our results clearly identify a need to improve the management of asthma. Education programmes would be beneficial to improve asthma control.