PURPOSE: Appropriate asthma management is crucial in the control of symptoms and exacerbations of asthma in adults. Current asthma guidelines encourage the use of an asthma diary for patients whose symptoms are not yet under control, who are trying new treatments, or who need help in identifying environmental or occupational exposures. Little exploration of the use and nonuse of structured diaries using qualitative methods has been undertaken.
METHODS: A qualitative analysis was undertaken as part of the examination of the use of a structured asthma diary. The analysis aimed to capture not only the usefulness and potential, but also critiques of the asthma diary used in the Women Breath Free (WBF) study. Women were randomly selected for recruitment from either the study treatment group to participate in the in-depth interviews (n=21 with diary users, n=13 with nonusers) or from the study control group to participate in the focus group (n=12).
RESULTS: The study findings provide support as well as highlight areas for improvement in the use of a diary in asthma management. Three domains or themes found in the evaluation of the asthma diary will be presented: issues in asthma management, benefits and challenges of diary use, and the act of documenting.
CONCLUSION: Findings indicate that the asthma diary facilitated a self-regulatory process that influenced asthma management. Recommendations for asthma diary use in the clinical setting are: 1) Physicians or health care providers should clearly state the purpose of the diary and provide definitions or parameters for use to patients; 2) Feedback or review of the patient's diary entries should be provided; and 3) Use of asthma diaries should not be limited to the newly diagnosed or patients with less severe asthma.
CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: The asthma diary may be an underutilized method in asthma management. Additional research into improved formats and methods for diary keeping, as well as the effects of documenting experiences on specific asthma-related behaviors, is needed.
DISCLOSURE: Melissa Valerio, None.