Patient views on asthma diagnosis and how a clinical decision support system could help: A qualitative study

Health Expect. 2023 Feb;26(1):307-317. doi: 10.1111/hex.13657. Epub 2022 Nov 12.


Introduction: Making a diagnosis of asthma can be challenging for clinicians and patients. A clinical decision support system (CDSS) for use in primary care including a patient-facing mode, could change how information is shared between patients and healthcare professionals and improve the diagnostic process.

Methods: Participants diagnosed with asthma within the last 5 years were recruited from general practices across four UK regions. In-depth interviews were used to explore patient experiences relating to their asthma diagnosis and to understand how a CDSS could be used to improve the diagnostic process for patients. Interviews were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed using a thematic approach.

Results: Seventeen participants (12 female) undertook interviews, including 14 individuals and 3 parents of children with asthma. Being diagnosed with asthma was generally considered an uncertain process. Participants felt a lack of consultation time and poor communication affected their understanding of asthma and what to expect. Had the nature of asthma and the steps required to make a diagnosis been explained more clearly, patients felt their understanding and engagement in asthma self-management could have been improved. Participants considered that a CDSS could provide resources to support the diagnostic process, prompt dialogue, aid understanding and support shared decision-making.

Conclusion: Undergoing an asthma diagnosis was uncertain for patients if their ideas and concerns were not addressed by clinicians and were influenced by a lack of consultation time and limitations in communication. An asthma diagnosis CDSS could provide structure and an interface to prompt dialogue, provide visuals about asthma to aid understanding and encourage patient involvement.

Patient and public contribution: Prespecified semistructured interview topic guides (young person and adult versions) were developed by the research team and piloted with members of the Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) group. Findings were regularly discussed within the research group and with PPI colleagues to aid the interpretation of data.

Keywords: GPs and asthma nurses; asthma diagnosis; clinical decision support system (cdss); patient perspectives; primary care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Asthma* / diagnosis
  • Asthma* / therapy
  • Child
  • Decision Support Systems, Clinical*
  • Female
  • General Practice*
  • Humans
  • Parents
  • Qualitative Research