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Open Access Research article

Nurse led versus lay educators support for those with asthma in primary care: a costing study

Nicola J Roberts1*, Kathleen A Boyd2, Andrew H Briggs2, Ann L Caress3 and Martyn R Partridge4

Author Affiliations

1 Institute for Applied Health Research/School of Health and Life Sciences Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK

2 Health Economic and Health Technology Assessment, Institute of Health & Wellbeing University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK

3 Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK

4 NHLI Division at Charing Cross Hospital, Imperial College, London, UK

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BMC Pulmonary Medicine 2012, 12:52  doi:10.1186/1471-2466-12-52

Published: 8 September 2012



Regular review and support for asthma self-management is promoted in guidelines. A randomised controlled trial suggested that unscheduled health care usage was similar when patients were offered self management support by a lay-trainer or practice nurses.


Following the RCT, a costing study was undertaken using the trial data to account for the cost of delivery of the service under both strategies and the resulting impact on unscheduled healthcare (measure of effectiveness) in this trial.


One year data (n = 418) showed that 29% (61/205) of the nurse group required unscheduled healthcare (177 events) compared with 30.5% (65/213) for lay-trainers (178 events).

The training costs for the lay-trainers were greater than nurses (£36 versus £18 respectively per patient, p<0.001), however, the consultation cost for lay-trainers were lower than nurses (£6 per patient versus £24, p<0.001). If the cost of unscheduled healthcare are accounted for then the costs of nurses is £161, and £135 for lay-trainers (mean difference £25, [95% CI = −£97, £149, p = 0.681]). The total costs (delivery and unscheduled healthcare) were £202 per patient for nurses versus £178 for lay-trainers, (mean difference £24, [95%CI = −£100, £147, p = 0.707]).


There were no significant differences in the cost of training and healthcare delivery between nurse and lay trainers, and no significant difference in the cost of unscheduled health care use.