Non-adherence in children with asthma reviewed: The need for improvement of asthma care and medical education

Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2015 May;26(3):197-205. doi: 10.1111/pai.12362.


Adherence to daily inhaled corticosteroid therapy is a key determinant of asthma control. Therefore, improving adherence to inhaled corticosteroids is the most effective method through which healthcare providers can help children with uncontrolled asthma. However, identifying non-adherent patients is difficult, and electronic monitoring is the only reliable method to assess adherence. (Non-)adherence is a complex behavioural process influenced by many interacting factors. Intentional barriers to adherence are common; driven by illness perceptions and medication beliefs, patients and parents deliberately choose not to follow the doctor's recommendations. Common non-intentional barriers are related to family routines, child-raising issues, and to social issues such as poverty. Effective interventions improving adherence are complex, because they take intentional and non-intentional barriers to adherence into account. There is evidence that comprehensive, guideline-based asthma self-management programmes can be successful, with excellent adherence and good asthma control. Patient-centred care focused on healthcare provider-patient/parent collaboration is the key factor determining the success of guided self-management programmes. Such care should focus on shared decision-making as this has been shown to improve adherence and healthcare outcomes. Current asthma care falls short because many physicians fail to adhere to asthma guidelines in their diagnostic approach and therapeutic prescriptions, and because of the lack of application of patient-centred health care. Increased awareness of the importance of patient-centred communication and increased training in patient-centred communication skills of undergraduates and experienced attending physicians are needed to improve adherence to daily controller therapy and asthma control in children with asthma.

Keywords: health communication; illness perceptions; inhaled corticosteroids; medication beliefs; patient-centred care; physician-patient relation; quality of care; self-management.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / drug therapy*
  • Asthma / psychology
  • Child
  • Clinical Decision-Making
  • Humans
  • Medication Adherence*
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Patient-Centered Care
  • Perception*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Quality Improvement