Despite their proven efficacy, inhaled steroids may be underused in the elderly asthmatic population. The objectives of this study were to determine if inhaled steroids are underused in the elderly asthmatic population, who are at a high risk for rehospitalization and mortality, and to identify certain risk factors that predict lower use of inhaled steroids in this group of patients.
Population-based, retrospective, cohort study using linked data from hospital discharge and outpatient drug databases.
All people > or = 65 years old in Ontario, Canada, who survived an acute exacerbation of asthma between April 1992 and March 1997.
Of the 6,254 patients, 2,495 patients (40%) did not receive inhaled steroid therapy within 90 days of discharge from their initial hospitalization for asthma. Patients > 80 years old were at a greater risk of not receiving inhaled steroid therapy, compared to those 65 to 70 years of age (adjusted odds ratio [OR], 1.23; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.05 to 1.47). Patients with a Charlson comorbidity index of > or = 3 were also at an increased risk of not receiving inhaled steroid therapy, compared to those having no comorbidities (adjusted OR, 3.45; 95% CI, 1.56 to 7.69). Moreover, receipt of care from a primary-care physician was independently associated with an elevated risk of not receiving inhaled steroid therapy, compared to receipt of care from respirologists/allergists (adjusted OR, 1.35; 95% CI, 1.10 to 1.61).
Forty percent of Ontario patients > or = 65 years old who experienced a recent acute exacerbation of asthma did not receive inhaled steroid therapy near discharge from their initial hospitalization for asthma. Nonreceipt of inhaled steroid therapy was particularly prominent in the older patients with multiple comorbidities. Moreover, those who received care from primary-care physicians were also less likely to receive inhaled steroid therapy, compared to those who received care from specialists.