According to a new survey, the Allergy and Asthma Network-led “Observations of Patient Experience in the Nation (OPEN) Asthma Survey,” people who suffer from asthma accept the disease-associated symptoms and limitations to their daily activities because they might think their disease is controlled. The survey was sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals.
The OPEN Asthma Survey included 2,900 self-reports from adults living with asthma who were treated with a daily prescription medicine, as well as over 850 healthcare providers in the U.S. who treat asthma patients. The survey was conducted between November 2015 and January 2016 to explore current attitudes of healthcare providers and patients about the control of the disease, aimed at identifying priority areas for improvement.
Most of the patients with asthma reported their symptoms are under control, and that their lives are not severely affected by the disease. However, the OPEN survey recorded that 70 percent of these patients had frequent experiences of some sort of limitations while performing daily activities, like walking, getting sufficient sleep, or doing regular household chores. In contrast, 84 percent of the surveyed healthcare providers claim their patients should not experience any limits in this type of activities.
The survey identified healthcare providers who believe their patients are, on average, well-controlled, and should not experience symptoms like wheezing, shortness of breath, or daytime fatigue, except for perhaps once a month. Although the asthma participants in the survey identified themselves as having a well-controlled disease, they claimed to experience such symptoms on average once a week.
“These findings validate and build on past research showing that even patients who are currently treated with a daily prescription medicine to control their asthma continue to experience symptoms,” said Tonya Winders, president and CEO of the Allergy and Asthma Network, in a press release. “This underscores an urgent need to reject complacency and raise the bar for asthma control. No one should accept uncontrolled asthma as a part of their lives.”
The OPEN Asthma Survey also revealed there are communication gaps in conversations during routine office visits. A little less than half of the surveyed participants reported that they discuss their symptoms with their healthcare providers, less than a third reported discussing how asthma affects their lives, and even fewer talk about an asthma action plan. Most healthcare providers reported being unaware of these claims, as their perception is of a constant and open communication, and regular conversations with their patients about symptoms, limitations, and action plans.
“Healthcare providers can make visits more productive by asking specific questions to uncover limits to daily activities and persistent asthma symptoms as indicators of control,” said Dr. Purvi Parikh, allergist and immunologist at NYU Medical Center at Beth Israel. “It’s important that healthcare providers take every opportunity to probe about concerns, behaviors, and habits that might be affected by asthma. This dialogue can help determine if changes are needed to the patient’s personal asthma action plan in order to help them achieve better asthma control.”
The Allergy and Asthma Network recommends asthma patients and healthcare providers re-group and discuss a plan together to achieve better asthma results, primarily by openly discussing individual priorities in asthma management, limitations to daily activities (including sleep), and fears or concerns regarding the disease.
At the same time, healthcare providers should keep track of objective clinical tools and measures and daily symptom reports, while co-creating a personal Asthma Action Plan with their patients, to be readjusted at each visit.