Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Family Practice and BioMed Central.

Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Management of asthma in pregnant women by general practitioners: A cross sectional survey

Angelina S Lim1, Kay Stewart1, Michael J Abramson2 and Johnson George1*

Author Affiliations

1 Centre for Medicine Use and Safety, Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Monash University, Parkville, Victoria, Australia

2 Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, The Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Family Practice 2011, 12:121  doi:10.1186/1471-2296-12-121

Published: 3 November 2011

Abstract

Background

Poorly controlled asthma can lead to maternal and fetal complications. Despite the known risks of poorly controlled asthma during pregnancy and the need for stepping up therapy when appropriate, there are concerns that management is suboptimal in primary care.

Our objective was to investigate the management of asthma during pregnancy by general practitioners providing shared maternity care.

Methods

A pre-piloted, anonymous mail survey was sent to all general practitioners (n = 842) involved in shared maternity care at six maternity hospitals in Victoria, Australia. Respondents were asked about their perceived safety of individual asthma medications during pregnancy. Approach to asthma management during pregnancy was further explored using scenarios of pregnant women with stable and deteriorating asthma and poor medication adherence.

Results

Inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) were perceived to be the safest and were the preferred preventive medication in first trimester (74.1%), whilst leukotriene receptor antagonists were the least preferred (2.9%). A quarter (25.8%) of respondents would stop or decrease patients' ICS doses during pregnancy, even when their asthma was well controlled by current therapy. In addition, 12.1% of respondents were not sure how to manage deteriorating asthma during pregnancy and opted to refer to another health professional. Almost half the respondents (48.9%) reported encountering medication nonadherence during pregnancy.

Conclusion

A lack of confidence and/or knowledge among general practitioners in managing deteriorating asthma in pregnancy was observed despite a good understanding of the safety of asthma medications during pregnancy, compliance with evidence-based guidelines in the selection of preventive medications, and self reported good asthma knowledge.