Pharmacy World and Science

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 208–213 | Cite as

The impact of guidelines on long-term asthma care: a study of hospitalised patients in Malta

  • Antonella TonnaEmail author
  • Dorothy J. McCaig
  • Joseph M. Cacciottolo


Method: A piloted, structured interview was conducted with patients between 14–59 years who were hospitalised with an admission diagnosis of acute asthma. In the case of repeated admissions, only the first interview was considered. All interviews were carried out by either of two clinical pharmacists and lasted about 30 min. The four-year prospective study started in February 1997 (one year before publication of guidelines and aimed at collecting baseline data) and finished in January 2001 (three years after publication of the local guidelines).

Main outcome measures: Inhaled steroids on admission. Patient partnership: use of a written self-management plan and home peak flow monitoring. Patient compliance with inhaled steroids.

Results: 304 patients (68% females; mean population age 33.9 years SD ± 13.41) were interviewed over the four-year period. The difference in proportions test (Z-test) was used to analyse the data comparing years 2, 3 and 4 with year 1. No statistical differences were found when comparing the groups for inhaled steroid treatment on admission or availability of a home peak flow meter. Similarly, no differences were found between groups when comparing compliance with inhaled steroids. A statistically significant increase in availability of a self-management plan was found over the study period (3% in year 1; 1% in year 2; 11% in year 3; 9% in year 4), but the overall use of such plans remains disappointingly low.

Conclusion: With the exception of an increased use of self-management plans, there appears to be lack of adherence to guidelines with consequent undertreatment of asthma, despite the fact that guidelines were published three years ago. This indicates a need to ensure better dissemination and implementation strategies to promote adherence. It is suggested that the clinical pharmacist is well-placed to promote adherence to guidelines.

Asthma Guideline adherence Inhaled steroids Malta Patients Self management Undertreatment 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Antonella Tonna
    • 1
    • 1
    Email author
  • Dorothy J. McCaig
    • 2
  • Joseph M. Cacciottolo
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PharmacySt. Luke’s HospitalMalta
  2. 2.School of PharmacyRobert Gordon UniversityAberdeenUK
  3. 3.Department of MedicineSt. Luke’s HospitalMalta

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