Pharmacists as educators can improve asthma outcomes

June 24, 2008

New research has shown that up to 90 per cent of people on asthma medications are using their inhalers incorrectly leading to poor asthma control, increased hospital visits and increased cost of treatment.

The study then went on to show how a brief educational chat with a pharmacist about inhaler technique and stickers on the medication can lead to improved asthma control in the patients.

Woolcock Institute of Medical Research spokesperson, Associate Professor Helen Reddel said, "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 said.

The research carried out by Dr Iman Basheti of the Faculty of Pharmacy is the first to report on the effect of inhaler technique education alone on asthma outcomes.

All pharmacists who took part in the study attended 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.

The active group pharmacists then delivered interventions to patients at four visits over six months.

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.

At six months improvement in inhaler technique score was significantly greater in the active group, and asthma severity was significantly improved.

Professor Reddel explains the findings of the study reinforce the need for regular assessment and education about inhaler technique.

"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.

"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", Associate Professor Helen Reddel concluded.

Source: Research Australia

Explore further: Smart inhaler to help asthma sufferers breathe easier

Related Stories

Smart inhaler to help asthma sufferers breathe easier

September 21, 2017
With almost 30 million people under the age of 45 living with asthma in Europe, new 'smart inhalers' may provide better ways of treating the disease and help scientists understand what is driving this growing global epidemic.

Marching band members can use a physical tuneup

September 4, 2017
(HealthDay)—School marching band members are athletic performers who must be physically fit to manage their routines and fancy footwork, experts say.

Smartphone game helps children to improve asthma inhaler technique

December 4, 2014
Researchers at The University of Manchester and Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have developed a new interactive smartphone game can help children use a key asthma inhaler ('a spacer') far more ...

Healthcare professionals as bad as patients at good respiratory inhaler technique

October 3, 2012
Healthcare professionals are as bad as patients when it comes to knowing how to use inhalers prescribed for asthma and other respiratory conditions correctly, says an editorial in Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin (DTB).

Do kids grow out of childhood asthma?

July 18, 2016
When a child is diagnosed with asthma, parents usually have a number of questions. How serious is asthma? Will the child grow out of it? How can it be treated? It can be difficult to get clear answers, as asthma affects different ...

Asthma pill more user friendly than inhalers -- and no less effective

May 4, 2011
A rarely prescribed asthma drug is easier to use and just as effective as conventional treatment with inhalers, according to a new study led by the University of East Anglia (UEA).

Recommended for you

Glucocorticoids offer long-term benefits for patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy

November 22, 2017
Glucocorticoids, a class of steroid hormone medications often prescribed to patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), offer long-term benefits for this disease, including longer preservation of muscle strength and ...

Baby-boomers and millennials more afflicted by the opioid epidemic

November 21, 2017
Baby-boomers, those born between 1947 and 1964, experienced an excess risk of prescription opioid overdose death and heroin overdose death, according to latest research at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. ...

Sensor-equipped pill raises technological, ethical questions

November 17, 2017
The first drug with a sensor embedded in a pill that alerts doctors when patients have taken their medications was approved by the Food and Drug Administration, raiding issues involving privacy, cost, and whether patients ...

New painkillers reduce overdose risk

November 16, 2017
Scientists on the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have developed new opioid pain relievers that reduce pain on par with morphine but do not slow or stop breathing—the cause of opiate overdose.

Separating side effects could hold key for safer opioids

November 16, 2017
Opioid pain relievers can be extremely effective in relieving pain, but can carry a high risk of addiction and ultimately overdose when breathing is suppressed and stops. Scientists have discovered a way to separate these ...

US regulators approve first digital pill to track patients

November 14, 2017
U.S. regulators have approved the first drug with a sensor that alerts doctors when the medication has been taken, offering a new way of monitoring patients but also raising privacy concerns.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.