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Aust N Z J Med. 1994 Oct;24(5):521-9.

Peak expiratory flow meters (PEFMs)--who uses them and how and does education affect the pattern of utilisation?

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  • 1Department of Respiratory Medicine, Green Lane Hospital, Auckland, New Zealand.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Asthma control may be assisted by educating patients to use peak expiratory flow meters (PEFMs).

AIMS:

To find out the sociodemographic and clinical characteristics of asthmatics attending an Emergency Room (ER) who owned PEFMs.

METHODS:

We undertook a study of 352 asthmatics aged seven to 55 years who attended an ER. The following were analysed: their pattern of peak flow monitoring (PFM), the factors associated with 'appropriate' or daily PFM on entry to the study and then prospectively; whether asthma education influenced utilisation and whether there was a reduction in ER use or admissions in those who acquired a PEFM.

RESULTS:

Those owning a PEFM at entry to the study (54%) had more asthma morbidity (p = 0.0001), had had asthma for longer (p = 0.0001), had seen their medical practitioners more often in the previous nine months (p = 0.0001), were on more asthma medications (p = 0.0001) and were more likely to have been to an Asthma Clinic (p = 0.0001). Those not owning a PEFM were more likely to be of lower social class (p = 0.016) and of Pacific Island origin (p = 0.0001) suggesting that distribution is not ideal and is influenced by disease severity, amount of health care use and sociodemographics. Patients with a self-management plan (35% of PEFM owners) and those receiving 'good care' or management, were more likely to use PFM 'appropriately' and to mention PFM in a scenario evaluating their response to worsening asthma control and argues for PEFMs to be distributed only in conjunction with a self-management plan, and therefore in close association with the patients' medical practitioners. Most patients (75%) appeared to prefer making management decisions based on symptoms rather than on their peak expiratory flow (PEF) and few (16%) performed daily PFM at entry to the study and fewer (6%) nine months later. There was an improvement in the pattern of PFM after education, but the acquisition of a PEFM made no difference to the frequency of ER use or admission.

CONCLUSION:

More realistic goals need to be defined in relationship to PFM which may improve patients' acceptance of the strategy, and therefore, hopefully their compliance. Such strategies need to be consistently reinforced over time for them to have an impact on asthma morbidity.

Comment in

PMID:
7848156
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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