Compliance with prescribed drug therapy in asthma

Respir Med. 1994 Jan;88(1):31-5. doi: 10.1016/0954-6111(94)90171-6.


Morbidity and mortality from asthma in the Western world is increasing despite effective prophylactic drugs. Beta agonists are increasingly considered causal; while under-prescribing of inhaled steroids or other anti-inflammatories are accepted as causes for the problems, but the role of non-compliance with inhaled asthma therapy is rarely mentioned. Using a novel electromechanical counter MDI actuations have been recorded in three small (9-11 patients), short (2-3 weeks) studies. When aware compliance with prescribed inhaled steroids was under scrutiny, six patients were fully compliant, two took just 70% of the prescribed regimen, but two did not follow the prescribed regimen at all. When unaware of scrutiny, six out of 11 were compliant but five patients were estimated as taking less than 30-51% of the prescribed dose of inhaled steroid. When asked to monitor rescue bronchodilator usage patients consistently under-recorded. Under-use as well as under prescription of inhaled steroids and under-estimation (8) of beta 2-agonists use may be contributory factors to the present increase in asthma mortality and morbidity. These potential problems of poor compliance need larger scale studies to show how and if behaviour can be altered to improve compliance.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists / administration & dosage
  • Adult
  • Asthma / drug therapy*
  • Drug Delivery Systems / instrumentation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nebulizers and Vaporizers
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Steroids / administration & dosage


  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists
  • Steroids