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How well do doctors know their patients with severe asthma?

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Abstract Background: 

Rates of asthma mortality have fallen in Australia since the commencement of the National Asthma Campaign and promotion of the Australian asthma management plan. New strategies are now needed to further reduce mortality. Aim: 

To examine agreement about key features between asthma patients and their general practitioners (GPs). Methods: 

We interviewed: (i) the next of kin of 56 asthma deaths, (ii) 91 asthma patients presenting to emergency departments with acute severe asthma and (iii) 147 of their GPs. Results: 

Agreement was substantial for usage of oral symptomatic medication, but poor for inhaled symp¬≠tomatic and preventive medications. There was moderate agreement regarding hospital admissions within the last 12 months among the cases, but little about other markers of severity. There was moderate agreement where the presenting or fatal attack was triggered by an upper respiratory-tract infection or aspirin. The next of kin and GPs agreed about family problems, but not about other psychosocial issues. They also agreed about which cases had been given action plans or verbal instructions, but few other aspects of asthma management. There was also moderate agreement regarding the use of peak flow meters by the controls. Conclusions: 

Doctors often have relatively poor insights into self-management practices, social background or trigger factors, even in high-risk patients. This should be considered when planning future campaigns to improve asthma management and further reduce mortality. (Intern Med J 2003; 33: 557−565)

Keywords: asthma management; medical practice; mortality

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 2003


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