Objective: To evaluate the impact of peak flow or symptom-based self-management plans on asthma control and patients' quality of life and to determine the main psychosocial factors that affect compliance with these plans.
Methods: The study sample consisted of 63 patients with persistent asthma outpatients. Data collection included demographics, pulmonary functions, symptom scores, and asthma control parameters recorded over the previous 2 consecutive years. A standard asthma self-management education program including personal action plans was given to the patients who were randomly divided into peak flow meter (PFM) (n = 31) or symptom-based (n = 32) action plan groups. Patients were then assessed prospectively for various study outcomes including symptoms, drug compliance, psychiatric co-morbidities, quality of life, and asthma control over the next 12 months. Psychiatric co-morbidities were assessed using Rotter's Internal and External Locus of Control Scale (RIELCS), Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV (SCID-I), Spielberger State-Trait-Anxiety Inventory (STAI), and Short Form-36 (SF-36).
Results: Of the 63 patients (79% female; mean age 43), 85% of them had moderately or severely persistent asthma. Baseline demographics, clinical parameters, psychiatric diagnosis, and quality of life were not different between groups. Personal asthma plans increased optimal asthma control significantly. Emergency visits, antibiotic treatments, systemic corticosteroid treatments, and unscheduled visits were fewer than the previous year. Control parameters were better in the PFM group. After the self-management education, the quality of life dimensions, i.e., vitality, total mental and general scores of both groups increased. Frequency of psychiatric co-morbidities decreased from 61.9% to 49.2%. However, state anxiety levels were increased in both groups. These increases were statistically significant in the PFM group. Compliance with the action plans was better in the PFM group. Higher BDI scores were associated with worse compliance. No statistically significant association was found between demographic parameters and the compliance. Although the compliance had decreased in both groups after 6 months, this decrease was greater in the symptom group. Higher RIELCS and mental health scores were associated with better compliance.
Conclusion: Introduction of self-management plans improved illness control and quality of life in asthma patients. Use of the PFM and the presence of higher RIELCS and lower BDI scores can be used to predict compliance with the action plans.