Inhaler mishandling is very common in patients with chronic airflow obstruction and long-term home nebuliser use

Respir Med. 2012 May;106(5):668-76. doi: 10.1016/j.rmed.2011.11.016. Epub 2012 Jan 25.


Inhalers and nebulisers are devices used for delivering aerosolised drugs in subjects with Chronic Airflow Obstruction (CAO). This multicentre, cross-sectional observational study was performed in a large population of outpatients with CAO regularly using home aerosol therapy and referring to chest clinics. The aims of the study were to compare the characteristics of the group of subjects with CAO who were using home nebulisers but also experienced with inhalers vs. those only using inhalers and to investigate whether the first group of subjects was particularly prone to inhaler misuse. Information was gained evaluating the responses to a standardised questionnaire on home aerosol therapy and the observations of inhaler technique. We enrolled 1527 patients (58% males; mean ± SE; aged 61.1 ± 0.4 years; FEV1% pred 69.9 ± 0.6; 51% and 44% respectively suffering from COPD and asthma) who were only inhaler users (OIU group) and 137 (85% males; aged 67.7 ± 1.3 years; FEV1% pred 62.3 ± 2.9; 60% and 23% respectively suffering from COPD and asthma) who were using both nebulisers and inhalers (NIU group). Nebuliser users were older, had more severe obstruction, related symptoms and health care resources utilisation. Nebulisers users performed more critical inhalers errors than those of the OIU group (49% vs. 36%; p = 0.009). We conclude that our patients with CAO and regular nebuliser treatment had advanced age, severe respiratory conditions and common inhaler misuse.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Asthma / drug therapy*
  • Asthma / psychology
  • Bronchodilator Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Bronchodilator Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Glucocorticoids / administration & dosage*
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Medication Adherence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nebulizers and Vaporizers*
  • Patient Education as Topic / standards
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / drug therapy*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / psychology
  • Self Administration / standards
  • Young Adult


  • Bronchodilator Agents
  • Glucocorticoids