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Chest. 1995 May;107(5):1199-205.

The influence of an inhaled steroid on quality of life in patients with asthma or COPD.

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  • 1Department of General Practice, University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


Relatively little is known about the influence of inhaled corticosteroids on general well-being (quality of life) in patients with asthma or COPD. In a 4-year prospective controlled study, we examined the influence of beclomethasone dipropionate (BDP), 400 micrograms, two times daily, on quality of life in 56 patients with asthma or COPD in comparison with the effects of BDP on symptoms and lung function. During the first 2 years, patients received only bronchodilator therapy with salbutamol or ipratropium bromide. During the third and fourth years, additional treatment with BDP was given. Fifty-six patients (28 with asthma, 28 with COPD) with an annual decline in the forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) of at least 80 mL/yr in combination with at least two exacerbations per year during bronchodilator therapy alone participated. Quality of life was assessed at the start and after 2 and 4 years by means of the Inventory of Subjective Health (ISH) and the Nottingham Health Profile (NHP). Although BDP significantly improved the course of lung function (FEV1)(p < 0.0001), it did not improve the ISH score or the six dimensions of the NHP neither in asthma nor in COPD. Beclomethasone dipropionate temporarily decreased respiratory symptoms during months 4 to 6 of BDP treatment in patients with asthma (p < 0.01) and during months 7 to 12 in patients with COPD (p < 0.05). A weak correlation was found both cross-sectionally and longitudinally between (change in) symptoms and quality of life on the one hand, and the (change in) FEV1 on the other. It was concluded that BDP did not improve the general well-being of patients with asthma or COPD as measured by these generic health instruments. However, BDP significantly improved the course of lung function and temporarily decreased the severity of symptoms. It seems probable that changes in quality of life would have been better detected by use of a disease-specific health instrument. Such an instrument was not available at the start of the study. Another possible explanation for these observations is that patients soon get used to different levels of lung function and learn to live with their disease. It is advised that disease-specific health instruments are used in future intervention studies and that quality of life is measured frequently during the early phase of the intervention, eg, once every month.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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