Adherence to asthma medications is a major problem in healthcare, with the resulting poor asthma control incurring avoidable costs, emergency room visits,and even death (e.g. Sumino & Cabana, 2013). Read on for four simple tips to help improve asthma medication adherence, derived from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood guidelines (NHBLI, 1997) and a World Health Organization report (WHO, 2003)
- Simplify the medication regimen
- Simplify the medication regimen if possible. For example, consider prescribing an inhaled corticosteroid of a greater strength that can be administered once a day, rather than a lower strength that must be administered at two different times each day.
- Review how to take the medicine
- Using an inhaler or nebulizer can be complex! Ensure that a member of the clinical staff reviews how to use the asthma tools with the child and parent at every visit. Give parents access to handouts and videos to help!
- Explain the importance of taking the medication as prescribed
- Ask the patient and parent how often they miss the medication. Explain to the parent and child why taking the medication every day is so important. Remind them of what can happen when they do not take the medication. Tell them that you will be checking in with them about this at the next visit to encourage compliance.
- Give an asthma treatment plan
- Be sure to give parents and children their tailored asthma treatment plan to ensure they know what to do depending on the severity of their asthma. Point them to where this information is saved online, so that they can always print more copies as needed.
- Suggest a reminder system
- Suggest simple reminder systems that the parent and child can use, like using an alarm on their smartphone. Give them a list of suggestions to try.
Asthma medication adherence in pediatric patients is a major challenge. Try the suggestions above. Need help sending education handouts and videos, checking in on adherence, providing the treatment plan online, or suggesting reminder systems to parents? CHADIS will soon facilitate all of these steps with innovative and automated tools. In development currently with a National Institutes of Health-funded project.
World Health Organization. (2003). Adherence to long-term therapies: evidence for action. World Health Organization.
Sumino, K., & Cabana, M. D. (2013). Medication adherence in asthma patients. Current opinion in pulmonary medicine, 19(1), 49-53.
National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute. (1997). Expert Panel Report 2: Guidelines for the Management of Asthma. National Institutes of Health Publication Number 97-4051.