People Who Have Mild Asthma Tend to Be More Noncompliant

  • Noncompliance is an oft-used medical term that basically means "the patient" is not doing what "the professional" has instructed him/her to do. I've been on both sides of that equation.


    There are many reasons for noncompliance. Sometimes, the patient doesn't fully understand the reason for or the value to doing what they've been told to do. Other times, they just don't feel like doing it or they forget.


    With asthma patients, the most common type of noncompliance is with taking our medicines exactly as prescribed. I'd venture to say that most of us have been at least slightly noncompliant once or twice.

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    And, unfortunately, the main reason asthma control hasn't been fully achieved by all asthmatics (though it's possible), is this noncompliance. Now findings from a new study show that the most noncompliant asthma patients are those who have milder forms of the disease.


    Researchers from a large health maintenance organization in southeast Michigan published findings about primary nonadherence, or the failure to fill inhaler presriptions, in the November 2007 issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.


    Here are the highlights of the study:

    • 1064 patients with asthma were included in the study
    • Patients ranged in age from 5 to 56 years
    • All had at least 1 prescription for an inhaled steroid
    • All were followed for at least 3 months after the initial prescription
    • Electronic prescription information and pharmacy claims were used to validate the data
    • 8% never filled their inhaler prescriptions

    The results showed that mild asthmatics were less likely to fill their prescriptions. Other common factors related to this noncompliance were: younger age, female sex, and African-American race. My guess is when asthma symptoms are not that severe, it's harder to get motivated (and to remember) to use your inhaler.


    I speak from experience.

Published On: January 16, 2008