Survey: Asthma Control Still Poor
1 in 4 Asthma Patients Seek Emergency Treatment
Feb. 18, 2010 -- Asthma
patients know more than they did a decade ago about controlling their disease
and have better medications to do it with. But
a new nationwide survey finds little decline in hospitalizations or ER visits
over the last 10 years.
Based on a survey of 2,500 patients who reported having at least one asthma
attack during the past year, researchers concluded that there has been little
meaningful improvement in some key markers of asthma control, including
hospitalizations, ER visits, and time missed from work or school due to
The private research group SRBI Inc. conducted the 2009 survey. It was paid
for by drugmaker Schering-Plough, which funded a similar survey in 1998.
Schering merged with Merck & Co. late last year.
Among the major findings:
- 7% of patients surveyed reported having been hospitalized for their asthma
over the previous year. That’s the same percentage as in 1998.
- 16% of patients reported having their asthma treated in hospital emergency
departments over the previous year, compared to 19% in 1998.
- In both 1998 and 2009, roughly 1 in 4 patients reported seeking emergency
treatment for symptomatic asthma over the previous year, either in hospital ERs
or in a doctor's office.
The sampling error of the survey is +/- 2%.
"It is very disturbing to me that there appears to have been no real change
in the control of this disease since the last major, nationwide survey was
conducted," says asthma
specialist Michael S. Blaiss, MD, who co-wrote the survey.
Blaiss is a professor of pediatrics and medicine at the University of
Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis.
"We have better treatments and we understand this disease much better,"
Blaiss tells WebMD. "But it is clear that a substantial number of patients are
undertreated or do not understand the seriousness of their condition."