Send to

Choose Destination
Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2006 Jul 19;(3):CD005306.

Written action plans for asthma in children.



While all asthma consensus statements recommend the use of written action plan (WAP) as a central part of asthma management, a recent systematic review of randomised trials highlighted the paucity of trials where the only difference between groups was the provision or not of a written action plan.


The objectives of this review were firstly to evaluate the independent effect of providing versus not providing a written action plan in children and adolescents with asthma, and secondly to compare the effect of different written action plans.


We searched the Cochrane Airways Group Specialised Register (November 2004), which is derived from searches of CENTRAL, MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, as well as handsearched respiratory journals, and meeting abstracts. We also searched bibliographies of included studies and identified review articles.


Randomised controlled trials were included if they compared a written action plan with no written action plan, or different written action plans with each other.


Two authors independently selected the trials, assessed trial quality and extracted the data. Study authors were contacted for additional information.


Four trials (three RCTs and one quasi-RCT) involving 355 children were included. Children using symptom-based WAPs had lower risk of exacerbations which required an acute care visit (N = 5; RR 0.73; 95% CI 0.55 to 0.99). The number needed to treat to prevent one acute care visit was 9 (95% CI 5 to 138). Symptom monitoring was preferred over peak flow monitoring by children (N = 2; RR 1.21; 95% CI 1.00 to 1.46), but parents showed no preference (N = 2; RR 0.96; 95% CI 0.18 to 2.11). Children assigned to peak flow-based action plans reduced by 1/2 day the number of symptomatic days per week (N = 2; mean difference: 0.45 days/week; 95% CI 0.04 to 0.26). There were no significant group differences in the rate of exacerbation requiring oral steroids or admission, school absenteeism, lung function, symptom score, quality of life, and withdrawals.


The evidence suggests that symptom-based WAP are superior to peak flow WAP for preventing acute care visits although there is insufficient data to firmly conclude whether the observed superiority is conferred by greater adherence to the monitoring strategy, earlier identification of onset of deteriorations, higher threshold for presentation to acute care settings, or the specific treatment recommendations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center