Asthma project helps resident physicians improve care for minority patients

Research Activities, March 2011, No. 367

Asthma is a troubling, chronic disease that disproportionately affects minorities living in major urban areas like Chicago, Illinois. Critical to asthma self-management is the ability of patients to use inhalers properly. Factors such as low patient health-literacy levels and poor clinician knowledge of new inhalers and their techniques can make managing the disease difficult. However, the Chicago Breathe Project, an intervention designed to improve education on asthma inhalers for resident physicians, is making a positive impact on asthma care. As a result of the project, residents learned about new inhalers and inhaler techniques and how to assess them during patient encounters.

A total of 161 resident physicians participated in 11 workshops held at 5 academic institutions in the Chicago area. During each workshop, the residents demonstrated their skills on how to use an inhaler. Asthma educators then showed the proper technique, emphasizing how to use and maintain the newer hydrofluoroalkane (HFA) inhalers that have replaced metered-dose inhalers. The residents were also presented with three clinical cases for discussion.

Prior to attending the workshops, only 3 percent of the internal medicine residents were aware of the inhaler policy changes. In addition, less than 10 percent felt comfortable instructing patients on how to use HFA inhalers. Knowledge of HFA inhalers increased significantly from 5 percent before the workshop to 91 percent after the workshop.At 6 months, more residents were able to assess inhaler technique (44 percent vs. 11 percent) and to discuss the newer inhalers with their patients (69 percent vs. 24 percent).

According to the researchers, the Chicago Breathe Project can be easily replicated in other urban areas to benefit minority communities affected by asthma. The study was supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS16967).

See "The Chicago Breathe Project: A regional approach to improving education on asthma inhalers for resident physicians and minority patients," by Valerie G. Press, M.D., M.P.H., Amber T. Pincavage, M.D., Andrea A. Pappalardo, M.D., and others in the Journal of the National Medical Association 102(7), pp. 548-555, 2010.

Current as of March 2011
Internet Citation: Asthma project helps resident physicians improve care for minority patients: Research Activities, March 2011, No. 367. March 2011. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.