The aim of this study was to assess to what extent the principles of asthma monitoring are implemented among Finnish asthma patients and if the patients have received sufficient information to adjust their medication according to asthma symptoms.
All Finnish asthma patients receiving asthma medication from Finnish community pharmacies during two days in June 1998.
The proportions of asthma patients who monitor their asthma status according to the national guidelines and have received specific instructions on how and when to adjust their asthma medication.
Eighty-six per cent of the respondents (86%) monitored their asthma status on a method recommended by the national guidelines. They made Peak Expiratory Flow (PEF) measurements (39% of the respondents), they monitored their symptoms (34%) or both (13%). A smaller proportion of the respondents (58%) were instructed on adjusting their medication according to symptoms. The lowest rates for monitoring the asthma status was found among the elderly (65 years or more) and among those who reported that they had been on medication for longer than 5 years (17% and 13% of the subgroup populations, respectively). The lowest rates for having received specific instructions on adjusting their asthma medication according to symptoms were found among the elderly (36%), among those who reported that they had been on asthma medication less than one year (44%), and among males (54%).
Pharmacists and other health care professionals need to enhance their education activities and their co-operation in training asthma patients to monitor their disease, especially principles of adjusting medication according to symptoms. In this process, especially the training needs of the elderly patients and those who have been using asthma medicines for a long time need to be taken into account.