New tool to improve inhaler technique

boy using inhaler and spacer

The National Asthma Council Australia has released a package of new and updated resources for primary care health professionals to help combat the problem of incorrect inhaler technique

Research shows up to 90% of patients incorrectly use their inhalers for asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Moreover, the patient’s own assessment of their ability is not a reliable guide. The Council cited an Australian study which found that 75% of patients using an inhaler for two to three years reported they were using their inhaler correctly, but on objective checking, only 10% had the correct technique.

As a result, the National Asthma Council Australia has released an updated version of its Inhaler technique for people with asthma or COPD information paper to provide clearer practice recommendations and incorporate new medicines and devices that have come onto the market in the last two years.

“It’s really hard for health professionals to keep track of all the inhalers, especially as new medicines and devices continue to become available,” said National Asthma Council Australia Asthma and Respiratory Educator and nurse, Judi Wicking.

“And many health professionals don’t realise how common poor technique is, nor how big an impact this can have on asthma and COPD management.

“The good news is that correcting patients’ inhaler technique has been shown to improve lung function, quality of life and asthma control.”

The updated information paper summarises the latest evidence on the prevalence and impact of incorrect technique and includes checklists for using the expanding range of new respiratory devices.

“The paper reflects the advice in the Australian Asthma Handbook, which recommends that inhaler technique should always be checked before considering dose escalation or add-on therapy,” said Ms Wicking.

Alongside the information paper, the Asthma and COPD Medications and Allergic Rhinitis Treatments charts have also been updated to include the latest inhalers and the main intranasal treatment options available in Australia.

These charts are intended as useful educational tools for health professionals to help with identification and explanation of different treatments.

Demonstration videos for new devices have also been added to the National Asthma Council Australia how-to video library, including for the new DuoResp Spiromax device.

Each how-to video shows an asthma and respiratory educator and a patient demonstrating correct technique for the device, accompanied by simple captions of the key steps.

“It’s important that health professionals ask their patients to show them how they use their inhalers and then provide one-on-one training to ensure that proper technique is used,” said Ms Wicking.

“It’s a good idea for all of us to check our own techniques, especially for new devices, by reviewing the new resources.”

The information paper was developed by a multidisciplinary team of experts in inhaler technique including Clinical Professor Helen Reddel, respiratory physician; Professor Sinthia Bosnic-Anticevich, pharmacist; Dr Tim Foo, general practitioner and Ms Wicking, asthma and respiratory educator.

The medications charts were updated in consultation with Dr Kerry Hancock, general practitioner; Dr Russell Wiseman, general practitioner and Mr Jarrod McMaugh, pharmacist.

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