Background and objective: In this study the effectiveness of an outpatient education program for adult asthmatics (AFAS) was evaluated in a controlled and randomized trial over a period of 6 months.
Patients and methods: In a randomized controlled study 78 educated patients with mild to moderate asthma (mean age 48.6 years) and 42 equally treated but "sham-trained" patients (control group; mean age 48.3 years) were compared after 6 months. The average duration of the disease was 16.7 years. Main items of the eight-hour outpatient education program were the peak-flow-controlled self-medication of the patients, the correct use of the medication, as well as information about the disease and its treatment. The patients of the control group underwent a "sham-training" (short education about inhalation technique and use of peak-flow meter).
Results: The knowledge about the disease, measured by a multiple-choice-test including 27 items, increased in the intervention group from initially 28.9+/-2 % to 90.0+/-3.6 % (p < 0.001). After AFAS 87.5 % of patients were able to manage their asthma attacks by themselves (initially 26.2 %; p = 0.009). Inhaled glucocorticoids were used more regularly (p = 0.037), the percentage of patients with mild and severe asthma attacks during the last weak decreased significantly (p < 0.001). The SF-12 life quality score increased significantly (p < 0.001). The control group revealed no significant differences in all these parameters.
Conclusion: Judged by the reduction of morbidity and an optimization of the medication as well as a higher quality of life, AFAS under outpatient conditions appears to be an efficient and cost-effective method of modern asthma management.