BACKGROUND: The aim of the Asthma Survey was to generate insights about the daily practice of physicians with regard to inhaler devices used for treating asthma under real-world conditions in Switzerland.
METHODS: A questionnaire was administered to 605 participating hospital- and practice-based Swiss physicians. Areas of interest were practical aspects of patient education, typical difficulties encountered when prescribing pressurized metered-dose inhalers (pMDI) and dry-powder inhalers (DPI), and reasons for physician preferences. Differences between the German-speaking part of Switzerland (D-CH) and French- and Italian-speaking parts of Switzerland (W-CH) linguistic regions were explored.
RESULTS: Datasets from 529 physicians (291 D-CH and 238 W-CH) were suitable for analysis, 342 internists/general practitioners, 177 pulmonologists/allergologists, and 10 other. Approximately 90% of all participants declared being personally involved in providing inhaler device education to their patients. Practice assistants (33.0% vs. 9.2%, P<0.001) and pharmacists (6.9% vs. 19.7%, P<0.001) were more frequently involved in D-CH compared to W-CH. Patient skills with regard to inhalation technique were generally not monitored on a regular basis with only 34.0% of participants ensuring such checks at the scheduled visits. DPIs were overwhelmingly preferred over pMDI. Although the prevalence of typical handling errors was similar with both inhalers in the two regions, pMDIs were used more frequently in W-CH (P<0.001).
CONCLUSIONS: Real-world asthma management and inhaler preferences differ between D-CH and W-CH. While the importance of patient education is widely acknowledged, inhalation skills monitoring remains suboptimal. The reasons for higher pMDI preference in W-CH compared to D-CH deserve further research.