Table 1

Items that should be addressed by comprehensive asthma self-management education materials



Basic facts about the nature of the condition

States that asthma is a lung disease characterized by inflammation and narrowing of the airways

States that the four main symptoms of asthma are cough, wheeze, shortness of breath and chest tightness

States that asthma cannot be cured (although childhood symptoms may remit) but can be effectively controlled

States that the cause of asthma is not known

The nature of treatment: relievers and preventers

States that there are two classes of medication: relievers and preventers

Explains possible side effects of medication (tachycardia/tremor in Β2 agonists; thrush/cataracts/dysphonia for inhaled steroids; possible additional effects for high dose steroids)

States that early treatment can prevent symptoms from worsening

Allergen and trigger avoidance

States that recognizing and avoiding personal triggers is an important part of asthma control

Provides guidance consistent with the primary and Secondary prevention components of the BTS/SIGN guidelines in relation to specific triggers

How to use treatment

States that preventer medication must be used regularly to be effective

States the importance of good inhaler technique and appropriate use of a spacer device

States the importance of ensuring inhalers are in date and are not empty

Self-monitoring and assessment skills

States that learning to recognize signs of change in asthma symptoms is an important personal skill

States that all patients with asthma should have a peak flow meter

Explains the purpose of a peak flow meter and how to use it

States the importance of regular physician review

The role of a written, personalized action plan

States that patients with asthma should have an up to date written action plan. Explains the purpose of an action plan (to step up and step down treatment, and to seek appropriate help in response to changing symptoms and/or peak flow)

Recognizing and responding appropriately to acute exacerbations

Describes signs/symptoms of worsening asthma (increasing wheeze; cough; night time disturbance breathlessness limiting activity; reliever inhalers not working)

States the importance of changing treatment and/or seeking help promptly

Lay management of acute asthma

Personalizing the definition of good asthma control

States that it is reasonable for most people to achieve minimal symptoms and limitation of activities

Asks patients to reflect on what they would consider as good asthma control

Advocates discussion with personal health provider to set treatment goals in partnership

Topics were based on UK BTS/SIGN, US EPR-3 and GINA guidelines.

Huckvale et al. BMC Medicine 2012 10:144   doi:10.1186/1741-7015-10-144

Open Data