A new survey of people living with asthma reveals they may be accepting persistent symptoms and limits to their everyday activities because they believe their asthma is well-controlled. Allergy & Asthma Network, the leading nonprofit organization whose mission is to end the needless death and suffering due to asthma, allergies and related conditions, commissioned the Observations of Patient Experience in the Nation (OPEN) Asthma Survey, which was sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

The OPEN Asthma Survey included people living with asthma who were treated with daily prescription medicine, as well as healthcare providers who treat patients with asthma. The survey was conducted to explore current attitudes of healthcare providers and patients about asthma control with the goal of identifying areas for improvement.

“These findings validate and build on past research showing that even patients who are currently treated with a daily prescription medicine to control their asthma continue to experience symptoms,” said Tonya Winders, MBA, President and Chief Executive Officer of Allergy & Asthma Network. “This underscores an urgent need to reject complacency and raise the bar for asthma control. No one should accept uncontrolled asthma as a part of their lives.”

In the OPEN Asthma Survey, the majority of patients report their symptoms as well-controlled and that their lives are not strongly affected by their asthma. Yet, 70 percent report regularly experiencing some limits to performing everyday activities such as walking, getting enough sleep and household chores. By contrast, 84 percent of surveyed healthcare providers report well-controlled patients should experience no limits to these activities.

Additionally, the surveyed healthcare providers believe that, on average, well-controlled patients should only be experiencing symptoms, such as wheezing, shortness of breath and daytime fatigue, about once a month. Yet, the surveyed patients who self-identified as well-controlled report, on average, experiencing symptoms, such as coughing, shortness of breath and daytime fatigue, on a weekly basis.

The survey also reveals a communication gap between patients and healthcare providers regarding the conversations during routine office visits. Fewer than half of patients surveyed say they discuss symptoms, with less than one-third saying they discuss how asthma affects daily life, and even fewer discuss an Asthma Action Plan. However, the majority of healthcare providers report regularly discussing these same topics (symptoms, limits to activities and action plans) with their patients.

“Healthcare providers can make visits more productive by asking specific questions to uncover limits to daily activities and persistent asthma symptoms as indicators of control,” said Dr Purvi Parikh, Allergist and Immunologist, NYU Medical Center, Beth Israel Medical Center. “It’s important that healthcare providers take every opportunity to probe about concerns, behaviors and habits that might be affected by asthma. This dialogue can help determine if changes are needed to the patient’s personal Asthma Action Plan in order to help them achieve better asthma control.”

The Allergy & Asthma Network recommends healthcare providers and people living with asthma do the following together to help achieve better asthma control:

  • Uncover barriers to control through regular, specific dialogue about:
    • Individual priorities in managing asthma
    • Limits to everyday activities – including sleep
    • Fears or concerns in relation to asthma
  • Track control through the use of:
    • Objective clinical tools and measures
    • Daily symptom diaries
  • Co-create a personal Asthma Action Plan, reassessing and adjusting at every visit

More information is available at www.OPENasthma.com