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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2012 Jan;129(1):112-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2011.10.030. Epub 2011 Nov 21.

Adherence to inhaled corticosteroids: an ancillary study of the Childhood Asthma Management Program clinical trial.

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Department of Medicine, Section of Pulmonary, Critical Care, Sleep, and Allergy, University of Illinois at Chicago, Ill 60612, USA.



Information comparing subjective and objective measurements of adherence to study medications and the effects of adherence on treatment-related differences in asthma clinical trials are limited.


We sought to compare subjective and objective measurements of children's adherence to inhaled corticosteroids or placebo and to determine whether adherence to study medications modified treatment-related differences in outcomes.


In an ancillary study conducted in 3 of 8 Childhood Asthma Management Program Clinical Centers, adherence was assessed by using self-reported and objective data in 5- to 12-year-old children with mild or moderate asthma who were randomly assigned to 200 μg of inhaled budesonide twice per day (n = 84) or placebo (n = 56) for 4 years. The κ statistic was used to evaluate agreement between self-reported adherence (daily diary cards) and objectively measured adherence (number of doses left in study inhalers). Multivariable analyses were used to determine whether adherence to study treatment modified treatment-related differences in outcomes.


Adherence of less than 80% was seen in 75% of 140 children when adherence was measured objectively but only in 6% of children when measured by means of self-report. There was poor agreement between objective and subjective measurements of adherence of at least 80% (κ = 0.00; 95% CI, -0.05 to 0.04); self-reported adherence over the 4-year period generally overestimated objectively measured adherence (93.6% vs 60.8%, P < .0001). There was little evidence to indicate that adherence modified treatment-related differences in outcomes.


Researchers should use objective rather than self-reported adherence data to identify clinical trial participants with low levels of adherence to study treatment.

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