JOURNAL ARTICLE

Disease impact and patient insight—a study on a local population of asthmatics

N S Ahmad, M Y Chan, F L Hiew, S A Sharif, P Vijayasingham, T Thayaparan, L C Loh
Medical Journal of Malaysia 2003, 58 (4): 526-32
15190628
The cornerstone of asthma management is achieving adequate symptom control and patient education. We studied in our local population of asthmatic patients how well their symptoms were controlled with currently prescribed treatment and their insight into the disease and its management. Over a 6-month period, 93 asthmatics recruited from two local government health clinics and a state hospital were interviewed using a standard questionnaire. Patients were classified into 4 groups based on the treatment they were on according to Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) treatment guidelines. The number of patients in Step 1 (rescue medication alone), Step 2 (1 controller medication), Step 3 (2 controller medications) and Step 4 (at least 3 controller medications) were 8, 39, 34 and 12, respectively. Except for day symptoms in Step 1 group, fewer than 50% achieved minimum day or night symptoms and no restriction of daily activities. Questions on patient insight were only available for 50 patients. Weather change (74%), air pollution (66%) and physical stress (46%) were the three highest ranked common asthma triggers. More than half correctly recognized the important symptoms of a serious asthma attack but fewer than 15% were familiar with the peak flow meter and its use or with the asthma self-management plan. Most patients perceived that their treatment had helped reduce disease severity and exacerbations. We conclude that symptom control and some aspect of patient education are still lacking in our local asthmatics.

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