Optimising asthma care: few patients have written asthma action plan

1 June 2012

Written asthma plans are an essential part of effective asthma management, but very few adults with the condition have one.

Writing in the latest edition of Australian Prescriber, Associate Professor Helen Reddel of the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research says that personal asthma action plans are an important part of helping people recognise and respond to worsening asthma. However, only a small minority of adults have worked with their health professional to write one.

“If you have asthma and you don’t have a written asthma action plan, ask your doctor for one. Asthma action plan templates are freely available. Your doctor can help you personalise the plan with information relevant for you,” says Dr Reddel.

The written action plan should include your current asthma preventer and reliever medicines. It will tell you when you should move to the next step in your plan if you are having asthma symptoms. The plan should outline when you should contact your doctor or go to hospital if your symptoms are worsening.

Dr Reddel also says that while it may seem obvious, people with well-controlled asthma often need a prompt to keep a reliever inhaler on hand.

“If your asthma gets worse, remember to use your reliever inhaler as often as needed, but seek help if you need it again within four hours,” she says.

An asthma action plan should also include a section on asthma first aid, which people can share with their friends and family so they are aware of what to do in an emergency.

“Asthma is a treatable condition but it is still important for people who do have it to make sure they are being proactive in their own health care,” says Dr Reddel.

“Your asthma action plan should be reviewed with your doctor whenever your medicines are changed, or at least on a yearly basis.”

To read the full article and others visit www.australianprescriber.com

Individuals with questions about their medicine can call the Medicines Line (1300 MEDICINE or 1300 633 424), Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm AEST.


Australian Prescriber is an independent peer-reviewed journal providing critical commentary on therapeutic topics for health professionals, particularly doctors in general practice. It is published by NPS, an independent, not-for-profit organisation for quality use of medicines funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing. Australian Prescriber is published every two months, in hard copy that is distributed to health professionals free of charge, and online in full text at www.australianprescriber.com