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Respir Care. 2008 Jun;53(6):751-67; discussion 767-9.

Guidelines for asthma management: a review and comparison of 5 current guidelines.

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  • 1Pediatric Diagnostics and Respiratory Care, Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, and Department of Pediatrics, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA.


The first clinical practice guidelines for the assessment and management of asthma were published over 20 years ago in New Zealand and Australia. During the same period, British and Scottish groups were collaborating on a United Kingdom version of asthma guidelines. Shortly after the introduction of the New Zealand and Canadian guidelines, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the United States National Institutes of Health participated in 2 additional asthma guideline endeavors, which were published in the early 1990s. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute formed the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program to develop asthma guidelines for the United States, and participated with an international task force to develop guidelines for the treatment of asthma in all countries, which resulted in the formation of the Global Initiative for Asthma in the mid-1990s. The asthma guidelines issued by professional societies and other groups prior to the late 1990s were primarily based on consensus or expert opinion in each guideline committee, though those opinions were based on the available studies. The early guidelines played a vital role in bridging the gap between various treatment options and recent discoveries in basic science, and served as the vehicle to implementation into daily clinical practice. Asthma guidelines have been published and revised in dozens of countries around the world and have become reputable directives or "road maps" in asthma diagnosis, treatment, and management for patients of all ages. The guidelines have similar formats. The dissemination and implementation of the early guidelines was inconsistent, and they were criticized for not being evidence-based. As the knowledge of asthma pathophysiology continues to expand, along with basic science research on asthma diagnosis, treatment, and management, as well as education of the asthma patient, it is essential that the asthma guidelines be frequently updated and based on evidence-based-medicine processes.

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