Asthma treatment decisions by pediatric residents do not consistently conform to guidelines or improve with level of training

Acad Pediatr. 2014 May-Jun;14(3):287-93. doi: 10.1016/j.acap.2013.12.008. Epub 2014 Mar 12.


Objective: To compare asthma treatment decisions by pediatric residents to current asthma guidelines and to learn whether treatment decisions vary by postgraduate year in training.

Methods: We conducted a Web-based survey of residents from 10 training programs through the Continuity Research Network of the Academic Pediatric Association (CORNET). Surveys included 6 vignettes of patients receiving low-dose inhaled steroids with guideline- and non-guideline-based indicators of asthma status and 1 stable patient on high-intensity medication.

Results: There were 369 resident respondents (65% response rate), 26% postgraduate year (PGY) 1, 38% PGY2, and 36% PGY3+. Seventy-five percent of each resident group reported seeing fewer than 1 asthma patient per continuity clinic session. A majority of residents made appropriate treatment recommendations in 2 of 4 vignettes of guideline-based indicators of asthma status: first, 97% overall stepping up treatment for mild persistent asthma; and second, 52% overall stepping down treatment for a patient with well-controlled asthma on high-intensity medications. Inconsistent with guideline recommendations, 82% of residents overall did not step down treatment for a patient with well-controlled asthma receiving low-intensity therapy; 75% of residents did not step up treatment for a patient with a recent hospitalization for asthma. Of the 3 vignettes evaluating non-guideline-based indicators of asthma status, a majority of residents (60%) stepped up treatment for parental reports of worse asthma, while a minority did so for a parental report of being bothered by their child's asthma (27%) or when wheezing was reported at physical examination (43%). There were no statistically significant differences for any of the comparisons by year in training.

Conclusions: Pediatric residents' management of asthma is consistent with national guidelines in some cases but not in others. There were no differences in the outpatient asthma management decisions between residents by years in training. Educational efforts should be focused on strategies to facilitate pediatric resident adherence to national asthma guideline recommendations for outpatient asthma management.

Keywords: CORNET; asthma; decision making; pediatric resident education; survey; treatment; vignettes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Asthma / drug therapy*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Clinical Competence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Decision Making
  • Disease Management
  • Female
  • Guideline Adherence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency
  • Male
  • Pediatrics / education*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*


  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents