Background: The "credit card" asthma self-management plan provides the adult asthmatic patient with simple guidelines for the self-management of asthma, which are based on the self-assessment of peak expiratory flow rate recordings and symptoms.
Objective: The study was a trial of the clinical efficacy of the credit card plan in a high-risk group of asthmatic patients.
Methods: In this "before-and-after" trial, patients discharged from the emergency department of Wellington Hospital, after treatment for severe asthma were invited to attend a series of hospital outpatient clinics at which the credit card plan was introduced. Questionnaires were used to compare markers of asthma morbidity, requirement for emergency medical care, and medication use during the 6-month period before and after intervention with the credit card plan.
Results: Of the 30 patients with asthma who attended the first outpatient clinic, 26 (17 women and 9 men) completed the program. In these 26 participants, there was a reduction in both morbidity and requirement for acute medical services: specifically, the proportion waking with asthma more than once a week decreased from 65% to 23% (p = 0.005) and the proportion visiting the emergency department for treatment of severe asthma decreased from 58% to 15% (p = 0.004). The patients attending the clinics commented favorably on the plan, in particular on its usefulness as an educational tool for monitoring and treating their asthma.
Conclusions: Although the interpretation of this study is limited by the lack of a randomized control group, the findings are consistent with other evidence that the credit card asthma self-management plan can be an effective and acceptable system for improving asthma care in a high-risk group of adult patients with asthma.