Purpose: To investigate the association of ethnicity with objectively, electronically measured adherence to inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) in a multicultural population of children with asthma in the city of Amsterdam.
Methods: The study was designed as a prospective, observational multicenter study in which adherence to ICS and potential risk factors for adherence to ICS were measured in a cohort of Moroccan and native Dutch children with asthma. Electronic adherence measurements were performed for 3 months per patient using a Real Time Medication Monitoring (RTMM) system. Ethnicity and other potential risk factors, such as socio-economic status, asthma control and parental medication beliefs, were extracted from medical records or parent interviews. The association between adherence and ethnicity was analysed using multivariate linear regression analysis.
Results: A total of 90 children (aged 1-11 years) were included in the study and data of 87 children were used for analysis. Average adherence to ICS was 49.3 %. Native Dutch children showed higher adherence to ICS than Moroccan children (55.9 vs. 42.5 %, respectively; p = 0.044, univariate analysis). After correction for confounders (>3 annual visits to the paediatric outpatient clinic, regular use of a spacer during inhalation), the final regression model showed that ethnicity was independently associated with adherence (p = 0.028).
Conclusions: In our Western European population of inner city children with asthma, poor adherence to ICS was a serious problem, and even somewhat more so in ethnic minorities. Paediatricians involved in asthma treatment should be aware of these cultural differences in medication-taking behaviour, but further studies are needed to elucidate the causal mechanism.