A new study appearing in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found that screening tests used to predict asthma activity in patients might not be effective when applied to people with persistent disease who adhere to their health care regimens.

"It was surprising to find that factors often used to predict future asthma risk in poorly treated populations were of no clinical benefit when applied to a well-treated, highly adherent population of inner-city adolescents and young adults with persistent asthma," said lead author Rebecca Gruchalla, MD, PhD, chief of allergy and immunology at UT Southwestern.

The study involved 546 adolescents and young adults in 10 cities across the United States between the ages of 12 and 20 with persistent asthma. The patients received care based on National Institutes of Health (NIH) guidelines for 46 weeks and adhered to the treatment regime. Despite the large number of disease characteristics examined, none was found to be particularly useful in predicting future disease activity.

In order to evaluate patient characteristics that best predicted future asthma symptoms and exacerbations, researchers looked at traditional measurements of disease activity, such as frequency of asthma symptoms and lung function, as well as various markers of inflammation and allergic hypersensitivity.

"These findings highlight the need for us to identify better clinical predictors of asthma morbidity in patients who are both well-treated and who are compliant with their treatment regimes," said Gruchalla in an announcement.