A multicentre survey of prevalence, determinants and management of asthma (the European Community Respiratory Health Survey (ECRHS)) has shown that the ratio of subjects declaring current use of antiasthmatic drugs to those reporting asthma attacks in the previous 12 months was particularly low (0.54) in the north of Italy. In this study, we used a standardized clinical interview to gather a more detailed insight into the issue of asthma undertreatment in the north of Italy. A total of 1,104 subjects were interviewed, 116 of whom had been defined as asthmatic by the family doctor. Fifty subjects had current asthma and 66 had a history of previous asthma. A considerable percentage (26%) of subjects with current asthma were not being treated with antiasthmatic therapy. Even when only patients with severe asthma were considered, the percentage of untreated patients was still high (21%). Forty two per cent of subjects used inhaled beta2-agonists alone, 28% inhaled steroids plus beta2-agonists, 2% inhaled steroids alone and 2% other drugs. Only 19% of the asthmatics on treatment, 85% of whom had more severe asthma, received daily treatment. Only 65% of the subjects who had received antiasthmatic drug prescriptions declared they had taken all the drugs prescribed; this percentage was 74% when respiratory symptoms were worsening. Of the patients with past asthma 18% had taken antiasthmatic drugs. Most of these patients mere those who had had more severe asthma. In conclusion, antiasthmatic drugs are underused in the north of Italy, at least in part due to low compliance.
- Antiasthmatic drugs
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine