A National Asthma Programme was undertaken in Finland from 1994 to 2004 to improve asthma care and prevent an increase in costs. The main goal was to lessen the burden of asthma to individuals and society.
The action programme focused on implementation of new knowledge, especially for primary care. The main premise underpinning the campaign was that asthma is an inflammatory disease and requires anti-inflammatory treatment from the outset. The key for implementation was an effective network of asthma-responsible professionals and development of a post hoc evaluation strategy. In 1997 Finnish pharmacies were included in the Pharmacy Programme and in 2002 a Childhood Asthma mini-Programme was launched.
The incidence of asthma is still increasing, but the burden of asthma has decreased considerably. The number of hospital days has fallen by 54% from 110 000 in 1993 to 51 000 in 2003, 69% in relation to the number of asthmatics (n = 135 363 and 207 757, respectively), with the trend still downwards. In 1993, 7212 patients of working age (9% of 80 133 asthmatics) received a disability pension from the Social Insurance Institution compared with 1741 in 2003 (1.5% of 116 067 asthmatics). The absolute decrease was 76%, and 83% in relation to the number of asthmatics. The increase in the cost of asthma (compensation for disability, drugs, hospital care, and outpatient doctor visits) ended: in 1993 the costs were 218 million euro which had fallen to 213.5 million euro in 2003. Costs per patient per year have decreased 36% (from 1611 euro to 1031 euro).
It is possible to reduce the morbidity of asthma and its impact on individuals as well as on society. Improvements would have taken place without the programme, but not of this magnitude.
Cites: Eur Respir J. 1999 Aug;14(2):288-9410515403
Cites: BMJ. 1996 Mar 23;312(7033):762-68605467
Cites: Allergy. 2005 Mar;60(3):283-9215679712
Cites: N Engl J Med. 2005 Apr 14;352(15):1519-2815829533
Cites: BMJ. 2005 May 21;330(7501):1186-715849204
Cites: Thorax. 2005 Jul;60(7):545-815994260
Cites: Eur Respir J. 2000 Feb;15(2):235-710706483
Cites: Respir Med. 2000 Apr;94(4):299-32710845429
Cites: CMAJ. 1999 Nov 30;161(11 Suppl):S1-6110906907
To study the frequency of corticosteroid therapy and the use of inpatient care for preschool children with wheezing in two regions in Finland.
The Finnish Social Insurance Institution database on refundable asthma medication indicated that 1.18% of children in Tampere and 2.37% in Turku used inhaled corticosteroids regularly. To clarify the difference, hospital records of 800 randomly chosen 0.5-6.9-year-old children who had been treated for wheezing in Tampere or Turku University Hospital during 1995-1996 were retrospectively analysed.
The incidences of wheezing-related emergency room (ER) index visits were 11.0 visits/year/1000 children both in Tampere and Turku. Oral corticosteroids were given to 2.5% versus 24.2% of children in ER and 10.6% versus 89.7% in hospital ward in Tampere and Turku, respectively. Hospitalisation rates were 44.8% in Tampere and 36.8% in Turku (95% confidence interval for the difference 1.2-14.8%). In both regions, children with prior inhaled corticosteroid therapy needed less inpatient care. Mean duration of hospitalisation was 3.4 days in Tampere and only 1.4 days in Turku. Recurrent visits in 6 months were more common in Tampere.
There were marked regional differences in the management of preschool children with wheezing. On a population level, frequent use of corticosteroid therapy was associated with reduced hospital admissions.