Delivering asthma education to special high risk groups

Patient Educ Couns. 1997 Dec;32(1 Suppl):S77-86. doi: 10.1016/s0738-3991(97)00099-2.


Patients at high risk from their asthma and therefore worthy of more focused asthma education are those at risk of fatal and near fatal asthma(NFA). In recent years the characteristics of these patients have been better defined. The most important risk factor appears to be a prior history of NFA. Other important features include prior emergency room visits or hospitalization for asthma. Excess use of beta-agonists, especially in the absence of inhaled corticosteroids, also confers increased risk. High risk groups also share similar psychosocial barriers as well as economic deprivation. The benefits of asthma education in these groups have been assessed in a number of studies. In general, asthma education has been shown to have an impact on these patients. Greater effects have been achieved where there has been consistent follow-up by the same physician. Patients require frequent reinforcement of their asthma management, especially regarding their response to acute exacerbations. A sub-group of patients with more severe asthma appear to have a problem perceiving dyspnoea and may therefore benefit from peak flow monitoring but the problem of compliance with this intervention is significant. Behaviour modification plays an important role as does ensuring the patient has adequate resources to purchase medications especially the more expensive anti-inflammatory therapy. Future studies should focus on optimizing the potential benefits of educating high risk patients as they are not only those at greatest risk of death but also consume a disproportionate amount of health care resources.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / prevention & control*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Patient Compliance / psychology
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods*
  • Poverty
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index*
  • Treatment Outcome