A new study has found that implementing self-management programs for asthma patients could improve their adherence to medications, while leadong to better disease control.
Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, say that asthma patients, who spend as little as 30 minutes with a health care professional to develop a personalized self-management plan, may improve their condition.
"Mortality from asthma is preventable. However, many patients struggle to manage symptoms on their own and often end up visiting emergency departments. Our study indicates that in a clinical setting, personalized self-management education coupled with self-monitoring may be a cost-effective way to empower patients to better control their disease," said the study's lead author Dr. Susan L. Janson, a UCSF clinical specialist in pulmonary disease.
Earlier, the researchers had shown that teaching asthma patients how to self-manage their disease can improve health outcomes and that tailored education is more effective than standardized programs because patients find it more personally relevant.
However, Janson pointed out that it had been unclear as to which components of self-management education could lead to better control of the disease.
For the study, the researchers conducted a 24-week randomised, controlled trial to know whether individualized instruction in asthma self-management added significantly to the effects of self-monitoring alone on patients' adherence to inhaled corticosteroids (ICSs).
ICSs are medications that can help reduce inflammation in the airway and prevent asthma attacks.
In the study, 84 adults with asthma self-monitored their symptoms, and kept a daily log of their peak expiratory airflow.
Forty-five of those patients were randomly selected to also receive a personal 30-minute session that included asthma information, personally relevant allergen exposure reduction, a personal action plan, and instruction in the correct use of their inhalers.
Janson said that many people with asthma did not receive the full advantage of inhalers because they did not breathe deeply enough or sometimes swallowed the medication and also different models of inhalers require different techniques to operate effectively.
During the study period, adherence to ICSs was consistently higher in the intervention group compared with the control group.
Also, participants in the intervention group experienced fewer nighttime awakenings, a marker of asthma control.
Intervention participants also used rescue inhalers less frequently, experienced an increased sense of control over their asthma, and had a significant decrease in their levels of tryptase, which is released from cells in the presence of allergens.
The findings of the study have been published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.