Abt SRBI recently conducted the Asthma Insight and Management (AIM
) Survey, the largest and most comprehensive national survey of asthma in the United States in more than a decade.
A national probability sample of 2,500 people, aged 12 and older, who have been diagnosed with asthma were interviewed by telephone about their condition and treatment. Those interviewed were current asthma sufferers who have had asthma symptoms in the past 12 months or are currently taking medication for their asthma. The survey was conducted via random digit dialing and 60,682 households were screened in order to locate and interview those with current asthma. A parallel survey was conducted with a sample of the general public, which included 1,004 adults without current asthma, for comparison with those with current asthma. In addition, a national sample of 309 physicians from family practice, internal medicine, allergy, and pulmonology were interviewed to provide insights on the healthcare provider perspective of asthma management.
The survey asked current asthma patients about their symptoms, how asthma affects their lives, their asthma treatment (including prescription medications), and their expectations for the management of their asthma. The public were asked questions regarding their general health to measure the burden of asthma on patients. The physicians were asked about what treatment options they used with their asthma patients and how they communicated with the patients about their asthma.
The study findings presented in the Executive Summary included:
Compared with the general population of adults ≥ 18 years of age without asthma, patients with asthma have poorer general health, experience emotional burdens more often, have greater activity limitations, and have more than twice as many sick and disability days
Asthma patients experience moderately to extremely bothersome symptoms and they also report episodes when their asthma symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, or shortness of breath are more frequent or severe than normal, most commonly lasting a number of days in the past year
One-third of asthma patients surveyed report that they have experienced episodes requiring acute care, including hospitalizations and emergency room visits in the past year
Asthma patients have low expectations for asthma control and tend to overestimate the level of asthma control they are achieving
Despite recognizing that maintenance medication for asthma should be used every day, non-adherence to therapy is common among asthma patients
Although healthcare providers generally have higher expectations for asthma management than patients, they often use terms that patients are unfamiliar with, such as exacerbations, which may lead to ineffective communication with the patient
Despite improved understanding of asthma as an inflammatory disease and the importance of using maintenance therapy for persistent disease, the have been only slight improvements in activity limitations, missed school/work days, and number of emergency visits in the US asthma population surveyed in the past decade
The results of this survey indicate a need for both asthma patients and their healthcare providers to work together to achieve improved asthma control.
The survey was conducted by the national public opinion research organization Abt SRBI, Inc. Serving as advisors on the project were Michael Blaiss, MD; Eli Meltzer, MD; Kevin Murphy, MD; Robert Nathan, MD; and Stuart Stoloff, MD. The survey was sponsored by Schering Corporation, a research-based pharmaceutical company.