Asthma Foundation Launches Get A.H.E.A.D. of Asthma Initiative

The results of a new national survey, released by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), reveals that adult asthma patients and their primary care physicians (PCPs) may not always speak the same language when it comes to discussing asthma control. And because this communication gap could potentially lead to less than optimal disease management, AAFA started the Get A.H.E.A.D. of Asthma initiative, designed to provide patients with a roadmap for a more effective conversation with their doctors.

AAFA's national survey, conducted by Harris Interactive, revealed many asthma patients and PCPs both agree that the most important factors that describe asthma control include having few to no asthma symptoms, being able to continue with activities of daily life, not having to use fast-acting inhalers frequently, and reducing the severity of asthma symptoms. However, it seems that this is where the connection between patients and PCPs ends when it comes to discussing asthma control.

Of the PCPs surveyed, 66 percent feel that their definition of asthma control differs from that of their patients, while 25 percent of patients who see a health care provider for their asthma say they and their physicians have a different definition. While the majority of PCPs (80 percent) say that they discuss asthma control with their patients on a regular basis, asthma patients who see a health care provider for their asthma report that the meaning of asthma control is discussed during a typical asthma visit 11 percent of the time. The survey results suggest that while patients and physicians are having the same conversation, they do not perceive the same things all the time.

"Doctors tend to review quantitative, clinical factors during a typical office visit, which may not be perceived by patients as dimensions of asthma control," said Mike Tringale, director of External Affairs for the AAFA. "Patients, instead, tend to place a heavier emphasis on the 'qualitative' dimension of the disease and how it impacts their quality of life. Asthma control is very 'real' to patients. It is whether or not they feel they are breathing freely, whether or not they can go to work today or play sports, or go out with friends. Perhaps, that explains the disconnect revealed in our survey between patients and physicians when discussing asthma control."

In response, AAFA began the 'Get A.H.E.A.D. of Asthma' educational campaign, providing patients with the tools to better communicate with their physicians about asthma control. As part of this initiative, a Web site, www.getaheadofasthma.com, has also been launched. The site provides a downloadable brochure, including a roadmap for an effective conversation between patients and physicians.

Fully understanding the meaning of asthma control can empower patients to better manage their asthma. Patients should understand what key information to track so that they come prepared to the physician's office to help the physician assess their disease. When surveyed, 40 percent of asthma patients report that they wish they had a better understanding of what their expectations should be for controlling their asthma, AAFA said.

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