A Canadian study finds that a written action plan for asthma treatment, attached to the drug prescription, improves asthma control in children. The researchers found that, even in the emergency department setting where little time is available to provide education, the provision of a written action plan significantly improved patient adherence to prescribed inhaled and oral drugs and to physicians’ recommendations. The findings were published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Ensuring patients adhere to their drug regimes is a major challenge for doctors as 65% of children do not use a controlling drug effectively and statistics show that the situation usually does not improve after an emergency room visit for an asthma attack.

According to the researchers, an action plan offers an additional advantage—it helps emergency physicians prescribe appropriately, in accordance with national asthma guidelines.

“Acute care visits for asthma often signal a management failure,” said Francine Ducharme, MD, from the University of Montreal’s Department of Pediatrics and the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Centre. “Considering its considerable benefit at low cost, I recommend the provision of the action plan at time of discharge after an emergency visit or hospital admission and after each preventive visit, for asthma.”

The findings of the study apply predominately to preschool-aged children, who comprised three-quarters of the 219 children who participated.

“Whether results can be extrapolated to older children or adults in other settings, specialties, and medical conditions remains to be examined,” said Ducharme. “However, the research participants were similar to older populations with regards to poor use of daily controller medication, low action plan ownership, and few having attended asthma education.”

Source: University of Montreal