Physician adherence to the national asthma prescribing guidelines: evidence from national outpatient survey data in the United States

Prakash Navaratnam, Sujata S Jayawant, Craig A Pedersen, Rajesh Balkrishnan
Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology 2008, 100 (3): 216-21

BACKGROUND: The Expert Panel 2 Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma (EPR-2 guidelines) were developed to improve medication prescribing for patients with persistent asthma and to control acute exacerbations of asthma. In addition, these guidelines also encourage physician-provided asthma education. Little is known about prescribing adherence to EPR-2 guidelines.

OBJECTIVES: To examine physician adherence to EPR-2 asthma medication prescribing guidelines and determine patient and physician factors associated with prescribing of asthma medications.

METHODS: This study was a cross-sectional retrospective analysis of National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey physician visit survey data from 1998 through 2004. Data were extracted on all patients with an International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision (ICD-9) code for asthma (493.XX) and reason for visit as asthma. The unit of analysis was individual patient visit. The dependent variables in analyses were specific type of drug class. The independent variables were various patient and physician factors. Logistic regression analysis was used to evaluate study objectives.

RESULTS: Asthma patients in 2002 had 3.3 times more odds of being prescribed controller medications compared with asthma patients in 1998. Findings in 2004 were not significant. Elderly patients had 54% less odds of receiving controller medication compared with those in the 35- to 64-year-old age group. Patients in the other race category are 40% as likely to receive controller asthma medication compared with white patients. Physicians in 2002 had 6.3 times more odds of prescribing long-acting beta-agonists compared with those in 1998. Physicians without ownership stake in their practice had 1.9 times more odds of providing asthma education to their patients compared with those who owned their practice.

CONCLUSION: Physician prescribing of asthma pharmacotherapy does not adequately comply with EPR-2 treatment guidelines.

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