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What do patients need to know about their asthma?

Andrea J Apter, MD, MSc, MA
Section Editors
Bruce S Bochner, MD
Robert A Wood, MD
Deputy Editor
Helen Hollingsworth, MD


There are a number of publications that describe what patients need to know about their asthma [1-3]. Perhaps the most important and far-reaching document on what to include in an asthma education program has been "the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program: Expert Panel Report 3, Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma -- Full Report 2007" [1]. The full text is available at the website of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute [1]. The Global Initiative for Asthma updated their guidelines in 2016 [2,3].

A comprehensive asthma education program covering all asthma education topics in depth may not be possible in all clinical settings. Based on a series of focus group interviews, the "core elements" necessary in an asthma education program have been identified [4,5]. The three topics of primary importance for patient education are the following:

Function and appropriate use of medication

Pathophysiology of asthma

Issues in the prevention and treatment of symptoms

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: May 16, 2017.
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  1. National Asthma Education and Prevention Program: Expert panel report III: Guidelines for the diagnosis and management of asthma. Bethesda, MD: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 2007. (NIH publication no. 08-4051) www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/asthma/asthgdln.htm (Accessed on December 04, 2014).
  2. Pocket guide for asthma management and prevention: A pocket guide for health professionals: Updated 2017 http://www.ginasthma.org/documents/1/Pocket-Guide-for-Asthma-Management-and-Prevention (Accessed on April 17, 2017).
  3. Global Initiative for Asthma. GINA Report 2017, Global Strategy for Asthma Management and Prevention. http://www.ginasthma.org/ (Accessed on May 09, 2017).
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