Home monitoring of theophylline levels: a novel therapeutic approach

Pharmacotherapy. 1990;10(4):294-300.


This pilot clinical investigation was conducted to compare a home therapeutic drug-monitoring (TDM) method for theophylline blood levels and a traditional TDM method with respect to various patient outcome factors. Outpatients with chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD) or asthma who were receiving long-term theophylline therapy were randomized to one of two groups: home TDM or traditional TDM (controls). Patients in the former group monitored their serum theophylline levels at home over 6 months. Patients in both groups completed survey instruments, including questionnaires, visual analog scales, and other psychosocial measures, at designated times throughout the study period. Pulmonary function tests and dyspnea index scores were evaluated at each clinic visit. Results indicated a significantly lower (p less than 0.05) number of changes in concomitant drug therapy in the home TDM group compared with controls. Other indicators that showed a trend toward more favorable outcomes in the home TDM group included symptomology, percentage of levels within the therapeutic range, patient attitudes regarding participation in health care management, and pulmonary function test results. Home monitoring prevented unnecessary clinic visits in several instances when theophylline dosage adjustments were based on telephone reports from patients. The utility of a home TDM method for theophylline has not been reported previously despite potential for broad applications. Findings from this preliminary study may support the use and feasibility of state-of-the-art methodologies in carefully selected subpopulations outside the confines of the hospital or clinic setting.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Ambulatory Care
  • Asthma / blood
  • Asthma / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases / drug therapy
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / blood
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Monitoring, Physiologic
  • Pilot Projects
  • Random Allocation
  • Theophylline / administration & dosage
  • Theophylline / blood*
  • Theophylline / therapeutic use


  • Theophylline