Three Questions About Asthma


Fewer than 1 in 10 pharmacists talked to most patients about asthma action plans routinely.

Uncontrolled asthma is rampant. When any asthma patient visits the pharmacy to have prescriptions filled, he or she is considerably more likely to have uncontrolled asthma than to have well controlled disease. Community pharmacists should recognize this fact and intervene, but do they?

The sad fact is that pharmacists can successfully educate patients, and help them control their asthma, but the likelihood that they will is low. A researcher from Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta looked at community pharmacists efforts with regard to asthma to determine how well we are doing as a profession. She also explored use of the Chat, Check and Chart (CCC) model to enhance pharmacists' care for patients with asthma. Her results, published in the Canadian Pharmaceutical Journal, indicate that fewer than 10% of pharmacists actively intervene with asthma patients routinely.

This researcher used an 18-question survey to gather information about pharmacists' monitoring of asthma control, and prior use of the CCC tools. Ultimately, 100 randomly selected pharmacists provided responses. Most guidelines consistently recommend using asthma action plans (AAPs) to ensure that patients understand their disease, and remain adherent with medication. This study indicates that fewer than 1 in 10 pharmacists talked to most patients about AAPs routinely. Approximately 1/3 of respondents said they talked to most patients about asthma symptoms, and medication sometimes, but they were most likely to discuss asthma with patients filling new prescriptions, as opposed to those receiving refills.

This researcher found that most pharmacists (76%) were familiar with the CCC model. The CCC model guides pharmacist to ask 3 questions based on whether the patient is filling a new prescription or receiving a refill. It can be used for any disease state, not just asthma. Pharmacists indicated that they were familiar with this model, and influence the practice, but they were unlikely to use it with asthma patients.

The bottom line: the researcher found considerable variability in pharmacists' activities in monitoring asthma. Although this survey was conducted among pharmacists who practice in Alberta, Canada, other studies have reported similar results among community pharmacists in the United States. This represents an opportunity to improve.


Guirguis LM. Assessing the knowledge to practice gap: The asthma practices of community pharmacists. Can Pharm J (Ott). 2017;151(1):62-70.

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