Asthma pharmacotherapy prescribing in the ambulatory population of the United States: evidence of nonadherence to national guidelines and implications for elderly people

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2008 Jul;56(7):1312-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2008.01767.x. Epub 2008 May 26.


Objectives: To examine the level of physician adherence to the Expert Panel Report 2 (EPR-2) pharmacotherapy guidelines of the asthma population, specifically in the elderly ambulatory patient population of the United States.

Design: Retrospective cross-sectional study using a national survey.

Setting: National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey data of U.S. elderly patients from 1998 through 2004.

Participants: The weighted population sample size was 82,020,318 patients. There were 1,540 observations in this study (preweighted sample size) and 96 strata, with 446 population sampling units (PSUs). There were 11,868,340 patients that were elderly, and they accounted for 14.5% of the overall population sampled.

Measurements: Specific patient demographic variables, physician demographic variables, and information about asthma medications prescribed were extracted from the data set and analyzed. Descriptive statistics for the patient demographic, physician demographic, and asthma pharmacotherapy variables were generated. A series of logistic regression models were created, with the choice of asthma pharmacotherapy agent used as the dependent variable and patient and physician demographic variables as the independent variables.

Results: A major finding was that physicians were not adherent to the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program EPR-2 asthma pharmacotherapy guidelines. Another finding was that, although elderly patients (aged >or=65) were exposed to more-stable patterns of care, they were less likely to be prescribed controller medications, long-acting bronchodilators (LABAs), combinations of inhaled corticosteroids and LABAs, and short-acting beta agonists than patients aged 35 to 64.

Conclusion: A more-concerted effort needs to be undertaken to improve physician adherence to the EPR-2 guidelines, especially in prescribing asthma pharmacotherapy to elderly patients.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Ambulatory Care / standards
  • Ambulatory Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Asthma / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Geriatrics*
  • Guideline Adherence*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*
  • United States


  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents