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‘Spring into Action’ survey shows asthma is still a major cause for concern

6th May 2008

According to results of a major international asthma study published today, 1 in 3 asthma patients do not believe their asthma is serious enough to take their controller medication regularly, despite describing their condition as being ‘chronic’[i].

The Spring into Action campaign, spearheaded by two major international medical groups [the International Primary Care Respiratory Group (IPCRG), and the World Organisation of Family Doctors (Wonca)] has been launched on World Asthma Day (6 May) to highlight the impact of asthma on day to day living.

The results from 1,800 asthma patients, across nine countries, show that asthma is still preventing 3 out of 4 patients1 in some way from achieving what they want from life. In the UK, a third of the patients interviewed expressing concerns over how asthma will affect their future health1.

Fifty five per cent of 200 UK asthma patients who took part in the survey said that their asthma prevented them from achieving what they wanted out of life1, 34% were worried about having an asthma attack and the same proportion had concerns about how their asthma would affect their future health1.

The results also suggest that, despite UK national guidelines about the best way to treat asthma[ii], one in three respondents still reported poor control over their symptoms.

“This survey shows that many people with asthma are still having frequent symptoms and disruption of everyday activities due to the condition. This may well be linked to misunderstanding about the cause of asthma and the need to use regular medication to prevent asthma attacks.  Doctors and nurses in the UK are ideally placed to fill in these information gaps, improving compliance with the effective asthma treatments currently available and enabling people with asthma to take control of their lives free of the disease.â€? says Dr Kevin Gruffydd-Jones, GP Principal in Box Wiltshire, UK, Honorary Lecturer University of Bath and University Aberdeen and Member of the General Practice Airways Group.

Sixty five per cent of UK respondents claimed to be prescribed a preventer inhaler1. But 35% said that they used their reliever inhaler at least three times a week, suggesting that their asthma was still poorly controlled1.

Nearly half of respondents said that they always took their medication as prescribed1. But, of those who did not, 47% said that they did not feel that their asthma was serious enough to need their controller inhaler all the time, and 40% said that they tended not to use it when they felt well1.

Only 33% of those in the survey knew that their lungs were inflamed when they had asthma symptoms, and 20% thought that inhaled particles blocked their airways1.

‘The survey demonstrates that it is critical to arm patients with the necessary information and confidence to take control of their asthma and understand the treatment options available to them to manage effectively their asthma. This can only be achieved with improved education about this condition and it is up to healthcare professionals to ensure that education is continually provided.’ says David Long, Publications Editor, Association of Respiratory Nurse Specialists (ARNS) and Senior Respiratory Nurse Specialist, Taunton and Somerset Hospital Foundation Trust

The survey revealed that many people with asthma recognise that they are under-informed, and they turn mainly to their family doctor and practice nurse for advice. Forty five per cent of respondents wanted to know how to prevent an asthma attack, and the same proportion wanted to know more about the main triggers, which would make their asthma worse1. Thirty eight per cent wanted to know about other treatment options, and 35% wanted to know what to do if they had an asthma exacerbation1.

‘Key findings have highlighted where the gaps in understanding lie and how these impact on asthma control and everyday lives of our patients. Our priority must now be for doctors and nurses to work with patients to improve their understanding about the underlying causes of asthma, and to give them simple strategies for preventing and treating attacks,’ concludes Kevin Gruffydd-Jones.

 

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