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Asthma Australia calls for better care as study shows devastating reality of severe asthma

Thursday 13th October 2016

SYDNEY: A study into the effects of severe asthma shows the devastating impacts of the condition and the need for recognition and understanding by health professionals.

Prof Helen Reddel from the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research will present the study’s findings at a symposium in Sydney today, discussing the debilitating physical effects and psychological toll the condition has on patients.

“Severe refractory asthma is often poorly understood. It affects 5-10% of people with asthma, and is characterised by persistent symptoms that do not respond well to normal asthma preventer treatment, even when a patient is taking high doses in an effective way.”

People with severe asthma typically require more intensive treatment and have a higher daily symptom burden meaning a significant impact on everyday life.

However, little is known about this impact so researchers asked participants about their experiences of severe asthma and medical care, which are detailed in the report Severe asthma ‐ uncovering the reality.

Dr Juliet Foster, also of the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, conducted the interviews;

“The majority of individuals with mild to moderate asthma can control their condition well and lead normal lives, but for people with severe asthma things are quite different. The public, and many health professionals, are not fully aware of how debilitating severe asthma can be. It may affect a person’s ability to perform even basic everyday tasks, to work or to socialise, and can place significant demands on family members who play an essential supporting role.”

Study participants described emotional distress associated with severe asthma, and their need for support, but this was rarely discussed with doctors and specialists. Interviewees suggested a need for more proactive questioning by health professionals.

The project was conducted in partnership with Asthma Australia. CEO Mark Brooke said that the study shows a co-ordinated approach is needed to improve care.

“It is unacceptable that people with severe asthma and their families are struggling with this burden every day. The study has clearly demonstrated unmet needs in terms of practical and emotional support. Asthma Australia is committed to working with health professionals, people with asthma and carers to improve the lives of people with severe asthma.”

Study authors are keen to see a better understanding of severe asthma, its appropriate treatment and the full extent of its effect on patients, both in general practice and hospital settings.

The report states that better communication is needed between health professionals treating patients with severe asthma and that access to quality care for patients in rural areas must be improved.

View the full report here (PDF 505.4KB)

ENDS

Media enquiries

Annette Stenhouse 0416 861 732

Mark Brooke is available for interview

Prof Helen Reddel and Dr Juliet Foster are also available for interview

 

Click here to learn more about the Connecting Asthma Care Asthma Symposia Series.

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