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Br J Community Nurs. 2002 Jun;7(6):300-3.

The RCP's 'Three Key Questions' for asthma: review of practical use.

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Tayside Centre for General Practice, University of Dundee, Dundee.


Assessment tools are a vital component of chronic disease management. The Royal College of Physicians has developed a patient-focused outcome measure for the treatment of asthma, the 'Three Key Questions'. However, in a study investigating the goals of people with asthma, several issues related to the tool emerged. Forty-seven adults of a range of ages and asthma severity but with no significant co-morbidity were interviewed. It emerged that the outcome measure may be subject to recall bias. Also, symptom reports may be conflated if daytime symptoms also occur with activity. 'Interference with activity' is a subjective term the interpretation of which varies considerably. Changes in the level of activity undertaken may be reported rather than changes in symptom severity. The 'Three Key Questions' are not fully patient-centred because they assess the presence of symptoms rather than their importance to the individual. The use of the 'Three Key Questions' as an outcome measure may not allow valid comparisons to be made between settings.

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