PURPOSE: Structured asthma training for allied health professionals has the potential to improve asthma disease management. This study evaluated the impact of an accredited distance-learning asthma course on practitioners’ skill and confidence to promote effective medication for patients.
METHODS: 354 students from 5 US states registered on a National Respiratory Training Center asthma course received a postal questionnaire at the start (baseline) and end of the course (4 months). Responses were given on a Likert scale where 1= not confident or low frequency and 5 = very confident or high frequency. Paired data were analysed using Wilcoxon matched pairs tests; results are presented as medians and interquartile ranges.
RESULTS: 200 questionnaires were suitable for analysis (56% overall response rate). Allied health professionals reported a significant increase from baseline in their ability to understand the various drug strategies (pre course median 4.0 (3.0,4.0) vs post course median 4.0 (4.0,5.0); p=0.000) and use of asthma guidelines to choose appropriate medications for their patients (3.0 (2.0,5.0) vs 5.0 (4.0,5.0); p=0.000). In the clinical setting, the proportion of practitioners who reported using asthma guidelines to classify the severity of all their patients rose from a quarter (24%) to two-fifths (39%) (p=0.000). Advice given to patients and prescribers on device selection by these respondents significantly increased (1.0 (0.0,2.0) vs 2.0 (0.0,3.0), p=0.000).
CONCLUSION: In this study, allied health professionals who completed an accredited asthma course reported an increase in skills and confidence to choose and promote administration of asthma medication.
CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: Further studies are needed to see if the increase in the use of asthma guidelines to inform asthma patient medication regimens continues to improve after completion of the educational intervention.
DISCLOSURE: Monica Fletcher, None.