Background: Over 50% of treated patients with asthma in Europe are not well controlled. Their management in primary health care (PHC) differs from that in specialized care, and there is no real coordination between the two.
Objectives: To identify barriers and solutions to improving the management of patients with severe and poorly controlled asthma and the communication between specialists and PHC, and to reach a consensus on the criteria for referral patients.
Methods: An observational study using a modified Delphi technique. About 79 physicians from PHC, pneumology and allergy fields from different Spanish regions were invited to participate via an online questionnaire. Consensus was reached on an item when more than two-thirds of the panel members scored within the 3-point category (1-3 or 7-9) containing the median and the interquartile range of answers had to be ≤4 points.
Results: Response rate: 52%. After the second round, consensus items were 40 (62.5%): of which 37 in agreement and 3 in disagreement. Around 92.68% of respondents agreed that it would be useful to incorporate questionnaires for asthma control into PHC computer-based searches. About 100% of participants agreed that clear consensus criteria between PHC and specialists must be determined to decide when a patient with asthma is referred from PHC to specialist or vice versa. Ten of the proposed criteria reached consensus agreement.
Conclusion: The failure to use guidelines and specific questionnaires for asthma control in PHC is one reason why there is underdiagnosis and poor control of asthma. Some strategies to improve the asthma care management emerged from the survey results.
Keywords: Asthma; Delphi technique; primary health care; referral and consultation..
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