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Open Access Research article

Motivational foci and asthma medication tactics directed towards a functional day

Malin Axelsson12*, Jan Lötvall2, Jesper Lundgren3 and Eva Brink14

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Nursing, Health and Culture, University West, SE-461 86, Trollhättan, Sweden

2 Krefting Research Centre, Institute of Medicine, Internal Medicine, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, SE-405 30, Gothenburg, Sweden

3 Department of Psychology, University of Gothenburg, SE-405 30, Gothenburg, Sweden

4 Institute of Health and Care Sciences, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, SE-405 30 Gothenburg, Sweden

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:809  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-809

Published: 17 October 2011



There appears to be an obvious gap between a medical and patient adherence perspective. Deviating from a medication prescription could be regarded as fairly irrational, but with respect to patients' goals and/or concerns it could be seen as understandable. Thus, the aim was to elucidate adherence reasoning in relation to asthma medication.


This was a qualitative study; data collection and analysis procedures were conducted according to Grounded Theory methodology. Eighteen persons, aged 22 with asthma and regular asthma medication treatment, were interviewed.


The emerged theoretical model illustrated that adherence to asthma medication was motivated by three foci, all directed towards a desired outcome in terms of a functional day as desired by the patient. A promotive focus was associated with the ambition to achieve a positive asthma outcome by being adherent either to the received prescription or to a self-adjusted dosage. A preventive focus was intended to ensure avoidance of a negative asthma outcome either by sticking to the prescription or by preventively overusing the medication. A permissive focus was associated with unstructured adherence behaviour in which medication intake was primarily triggered by asthma symptoms.


As all participants had consciously adopted functioning medication tactics that directed them towards the desired goal of a functional day. In an effort to bridge the gap between a patient- and a medical adherence perspective, patients need support in defining their desired functionality and guidance in developing a person-based medication tactic.