A new study has suggested that most asthma patients use their inhalers incorrectly which results in poor outcomes. The study recommends that healthcare professionals should educate patients on its correct usage.
Professor Helen Reddel, Woolcock Institute of Medical Research spokesperson and Associate Professor suggests that pharmacist should be taught about correct inhaler technique and stickers on the medication can lead to improved asthma control in the patients.
"Pharmacists and other health care professionals need to effectively show patients how to use inhalers correctly and to promote the importance of inhaler technique on patient outcomes," she said.
"By educating pharmacists on correct technique and then putting in place an easy system for them to relay this knowledge, our research was able to demonstrate a real effect on patient behaviour.
"The inhaler technique intervention took an average of 2.5 minutes per visit, which is short enough to be feasible during routine dispensing procedures," she added.
In the study led by Dr Iman Basheti of the Faculty of Pharmacy pharmacists were asked to attend a general workshop about asthma, inhaled medications and peak flow meter technique.
However only pharmacists in the active group were trained to assess and teach dry powder inhaler technique, with the aid of a simple education tool.
An additional component of the intervention was the use of innovative stickers applied to the outside of inhalers to remind patients about the correct technique.
Stickers were personalised to highlight each patient's most problematic steps with their inhaler. They were updated at each visit.
The team found improvement in inhaler technique, with scores significantly greater in the active group, and improvement in asthma severity.
"The inhaler labels provided a simple visual aid, acting as both a daily reminder of correct technique and as visit-by-visit evidence of progress," said Reddel
"For people with asthma to obtain the full benefit of medication they must not only use their preventer inhaler regularly, which is itself a challenge, but do so correctly.
"Pharmacist education represents an inexpensive yet effective way of improving asthma control in the community.
"If the results of this study are confirmed in broader populations, this simple pharmacist intervention should be instituted as a routine part of the dispensing of inhaled asthma medications", she added.
The research was published in this month's edition of the Patient Education and Counselling Journal.