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Management of asthma exacerbations in the paediatric population: a systematic review.

BACKGROUND: Asthma exacerbations in children is one of the most common medical conditions requiring urgent visits to primary healthcare providers or emergency departments, and even hospitalisations. Currently, there is significant variation in the management of asthma exacerbations expressed in guideline recommendations versus clinical practice. This disconnect affects diagnostic and treatment decisions for the clinician and patient.

OBJECTIVE: We systematically reviewed the available guidelines providing recommendations for diagnostic and therapeutic management of asthma exacerbations in the paediatric population.

METHODS: A systematic review of the literature for guidelines published between January 2009 and October 2019 was conducted, using a protocol registered with the international prospective register of systematic reviews (PROSPERO CRD42020221562).

RESULTS: 16 asthma exacerbation clinical practice guidelines for children were included. Despite general agreement between guidelines on the definition of asthma exacerbation, there was great variability in the definition of disease severity and assessment of asthma control. This systematic review also highlighted a paucity of recommendations for criteria for hospitalisation and discharge. Many guidelines scored poorly when measured for stakeholder involvement and editorial independence.

CONCLUSION: Comprehensive and updated guidelines compliant with international standards for clinical guidelines may significantly improve clinical practice quality, promote evidence-based recommendations and provide uniformity of treatment between countries.

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