Adherence to adding inhaled corticosteroids to rescue therapy in a pragmatic trial with adults with asthma: A pilot study

Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2020 May;124(5):487-493.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.anai.2019.12.027. Epub 2020 Jan 8.


Background: Underuse of guideline-recommended inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) controller therapy is a risk factor for greater asthma burden. ICS concomitantly used with rescue inhalers (Patient-Activated Reliever-Triggered ICS ['PARTICS']) reduced asthma exacerbations in efficacy trials, but whether PARTICS is effective in pragmatic trials is unknown.

Objective: We conducted this pilot to determine the feasibility of executing a large-scale pragmatic PARTICS trial and to improve study protocols.

Methods: Four sites recruited 33 Hispanic or black adults with persistent asthma, randomized them approximately 3:1 to intervention or usual care, and followed them for 12 weeks. All participants received asthma guideline-based educational videos; intervention participants received video-based instructions on implementing PARTICS plus usual medications. The study involved 1 randomization visit and monthly questionnaires. Timely questionnaire responses (±2 weeks) were monitored. Participants underwent qualitative phone interviews to assess self-reported adherence to PARTICS and understand barriers to completing study procedures.

Results: Timely questionnaire response rates were 61%, 64%, and 70% at 4, 8, and 12 weeks, respectively. Self-reported adherence to PARTICS was 76% (95% confidence interval [CI], 58%-94% [n = 21]), 88% (95%CI, 72%-100% [n = 16]), and 62% (95%CI, 36%-88% [n = 13]) at weeks 1, 6, and 12, respectively. Barriers to completing study procedures included difficulties with questionnaire access, remembering to use ICS and rescue inhalers together, and obtaining refills. Only 22% of participants recognized their short-acting bronchodilator as "reliever" or "rescue."

Conclusion: Recruitment was feasible within the allocated period. Adherence to PARTICS was incomplete, questionnaire completion was suboptimal, and common rescue inhaler nomenclature usage was limited. We have modified the full study protocol to attempt to improve adherence to PARTICS and minimize barriers to study procedures.

Clinical trials registration: pilot study for 'PeRson EmPowered Asthma Relief' (PREPARE, NCT02995733).

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use*
  • Adult
  • Asthma / drug therapy
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Black or African American*
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medication Adherence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Selection
  • Pilot Projects
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Pragmatic Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones

Associated data