Patients' understanding of the reasons for starting and discontinuing inhaled corticosteroids

Tanja T Menckeberg, Marcel L Bouvy, Madelon Bracke, Jacqueline G Hugtenburg, Jan-Willem Lammers, Jan A M Raaijmakers
British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 2008, 66 (2): 255-60

AIM: Although early discontinuation of treatment in new users of inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) has been widely discussed, the reasons for stopping have not been investigated in depth. We aimed to describe reasons for discontinuation from a patient's perspective in relation to their experience of symptoms at the time of the investigation.

METHODS: A cross-sectional study among new users that discontinued ICS use in the Netherlands was performed. Patients were interviewed by telephone, aiming to identify the symptoms for which they were prescribed ICS, the reasons for discontinuing treatment and the respiratory symptoms patients still experienced at the time of the survey. In addition, automated dispensing records of all patients were retrieved.

RESULTS: From 287 eligible patients, 230 (80.1%) were interviewed. Only 22 patients (9.6%) mentioned asthma as the reason for a first ICS prescription. A decrease in symptoms was the main reason for discontinuation (45%). Thirty patients (13%) reported clinically significant residual symptoms. These patients reported more seasonal variation of symptoms and were more often prescribed short-acting beta(2)-agonists.

CONCLUSIONS: The majority of patients mentioned a wide range of symptoms and conditions, other than asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, as the reason for the start of ICS therapy. Most of these conditions may be expected to be of short duration. Not surprisingly a decrease in symptoms was the main, and justifiable, reason for discontinuing ICS. However, a non-negligible proportion of patients reported residual symptoms that suggest the need of continued ICS use. Physicians and pharmacists could cooperate in identifying those patients for which ICS are really indicated and motivate them to continue the use of ICS.

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