Development of an electronic pictorial asthma action plan and its use in primary care

Patient Educ Couns. 2010 Jul;80(1):141-6. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2009.09.040. Epub 2009 Oct 29.


Objective: Self-management education and the issuing of a written action plan improve outcomes for asthma. Many do not receive a plan and some cannot use the written word. We have developed an electronic pictorial asthma action plan (E-PAAP).

Methods: A pictorial action plan was incorporated into a software package. 21 general practices were offered this tool and the software was loaded onto 63 desktop computers (46 GPs and 17 nurses). Usage was assessed and health care professionals questioned as to its use.

Results: 190 plans had been printed in a 4-month period (17 for test purposes). The individual usage rate ranged from 0 to 28 plans. Doctors printed 73% (139/190) a mean of 3 per doctor and nurses printed 27% a mean of 2 per nurse (37/190). Excluding the test copies, 116/173(67%) were printed as picture and text together.

Conclusion: Nearly half of all healthcare professionals used the E-PAAP software. Usage was skewed with some individuals using the software significantly more than others. The software package should help overcome problems of access to paper templates, by calculating peak flow action thresholds and by prompting correct completion. Barriers to the use of asthma action plans, such as perceived time constraints, persist.

Practice implications: The development of an electronic asthma action plan facilitates health professional access to a basic template and prompts the user as to correct usage. It is to be hoped that such facilitation enhances the number of action plans issued and in this study GPs were greater users than the nurses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / prevention & control
  • Asthma / psychology*
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Audiovisual Aids / standards*
  • Computer Graphics
  • Disease Management
  • Female
  • Health Literacy
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Care Planning / organization & administration*
  • Patient Education as Topic*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • Primary Health Care / organization & administration
  • Self Care / methods*
  • Software