Educational and behavioral interventions for asthma: who achieves which outcomes? A systematic review

J Asthma Allergy. 2010 Dec 10;3:187-97. doi: 10.2147/JAA.S14772.


Objectives: Randomized clinical trial (RCT) data reviewed for outcomes and processes associated with asthma educational and behavioral interventions provided by different types of health professionals.

Methods: Cochrane Collaboration, MEDLINE, PUBMED, Google Scholar search from 1998 to 2009 identified 1650 articles regarding asthma educational and behavioral interventions resulting in 249 potential studies and following assessment produced a final sample of 50 RCTs.

Results: Approaches, intended outcomes, and program providers vary greatly. No rationale provided in study reports for the selection of specific outcomes, program providers, or program components. Health care utilization and symptom control have been the most common outcomes assessed. Specific providers favor particular teaching approaches. Multidisciplinary teams have been the most frequent providers of asthma interventions. Physician-led interventions were most successful for outcomes related to the use of health care. Multidisciplinary teams were best in achieving symptom reduction and quality of life. Lay persons were best in achieving self-management/self-efficacy outcomes. Components most frequently employed in successful programs are skills to improve patient-clinician communication and education to enhance patient self-management. Fifty percent of interventions achieved reduction in the use of health care and one-third in symptom control. A combination approach including self-management and patient-clinician communication involving multidisciplinary team members may have the greatest effect on most outcomes.

Conclusions: The extent to which and how different providers achieve asthma outcomes through educational and behavioral interventions is emerging from recent studies. Health care use and symptom control are evolving as the gold standard for intervention outcomes. Development of self-management and clinician-patient communication skills are program components associated with success across outcomes and providers.

Keywords: asthma; health professionals; interventions; systematic review.