Background: Adherence to inhaled anti-inflammatory therapy and self-management skills are essential parts of the asthma treatment plan to improve asthma control and prevent exacerbations. Whether self-management education improves long-term medication adherence is less clear.
Objective: A 24-week prospective, randomized controlled trial was performed to study the effect of self-management education on long-term adherence to inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) therapy and markers of asthma control.
Methods: After stabilization on ICS medication during a run-in phase, 95 adults with moderate-to-severe asthma were recruited from a large metropolitan community, and 84 were randomized to individualized self-management education, including self-monitoring of symptoms and peak flow or usual care with self-monitoring alone. The key components of the 30-minute intervention were asthma information, assessment, and correction of inhaler technique; an individualized action plan based on self-monitoring data; and environmental control strategies for relevant allergen and irritant exposures. The intervention was personalized based on pulmonary function, allergen skin test reactivity, and inhaler technique and reinforced at 2-week intervals.
Results: Participants randomized to the self-management intervention maintained consistently higher ICS adherence levels and showed a 9-fold greater odds of more than 60% adherence to the prescribed dose compared with control subjects at the end of the intervention (P = .02) and maintained a 3-fold greater odds of higher than 60% adherence at the end of the study. Perceived control of asthma improved (P = .006), nighttime awakenings decreased (P = .03), and inhaled beta-agonist use decreased (P = .01) in intervention participants compared with control subjects.
Conclusion: Our results show that individualized asthma self-management education attenuates the usual decrease in medication adherence and improves clinical markers of asthma control.