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Study finds few caregivers administer asthma meds correctly

In a study, the majority of caregivers who administered their child’s asthma medication frequently used the incorrect technique, potentially leading to poor health outcomes.

The study, conducted by researchers with The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in New York City, found that only one of 169 caregivers accurately carried out 10 steps outlined in national guidelines as the appropriate method to deliver adequate medication for asthma management.

Children with asthma usually depend on their caregivers to administer their medication, often via inhaler. To ensure the appropriate dose is inhaled, a spacer — a chamber with a mask that holds the medication and is placed between the inhaler and the child’s mouth — often is utilized. This approach commonly is prescribed for kids with asthma in the U.S., where as many as 7 million children suffer from the condition.

As published Oct. 22 on the website of the Journal of Asthma, investigators monitored caregivers’ administering technique using a 10-step checklist and determined that if caregivers conducted seven or more steps accurately, they had a good technique. If they administered six or fewer steps correctly, their technique was deemed poor. Five of the 10 steps were deemed essential for adequate delivery of medication.

Fewer than 4% of caregivers were able to complete five essential steps, said Marina Reznik, MD, MS, the study’s lead author and an attending physician in the Department of Pediatrics at Children’s Hospital of Montefiore. “We believe that regular education efforts would be beneficial to caregivers and their children,” Reznik said in a news release.

“We also learned that caregivers whose children had been admitted for asthma in the past year were more likely to exhibit correct use, suggesting they had been retrained during the hospitalization and as a result were better able to perform the steps.”

The researchers surveyed and evaluated 169 caregivers of urban minority children, ages 2 to 9, with persistent asthma whose doctor prescribed the medication to be taken via inhaler on a daily basis. Caregivers were asked questions to determine how well the child’s asthma was controlled and whether they had been instructed or shown by a medical professional how to administer the medication properly.

More than 90% of caregivers said they had received a verbal explanation of how to administer the medication, but only 54% were asked by a medical professional to demonstrate that they actually could do it themselves.

“Our study results further support the fact that caregivers need regular demonstration and evaluation of the correct technique, which could lead to improved clinical outcomes as well as reduced hospitalizations and healthcare costs,” said Reznik, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “We want to keep our kids healthy, and education will help make that happen.”

Study abstract:

By | 2013-10-25T00:00:00-04:00 October 25th, 2013|Categories: National|0 Comments

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