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J Am Acad Nurse Pract. 2012 Feb;24(2):113-20. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-7599.2011.00681.x. Epub 2011 Dec 19.

Teaching inhaler use in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients.

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College of Nursing, University of Colorado Denver, Education 2 North, 13120 East 19th Avenue, Aurora, CO 80045, USA.



To review barriers to the successful use of inhalers in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and the role of the nurse practitioner (NP) in facilitating optimum inhaler use.


Review of the national and international scientific literature.


Pharmacologic treatment of COPD patients comprises mainly inhaled medications. Incorrect use of inhalers is very common in these individuals. Some of the consequences of poor inhaler technique include reduced therapeutic dosing, medication adherence, and disease stability, which can lead to increased morbidity, decreased quality of life, and a high burden on the healthcare system. Knowledgeable evaluation and frequent reassessment of inhaler use coupled with education of patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals can significantly improve the benefits COPD patients derive from inhaled therapy.


Patient education is vital for correct use of inhalers and to ensure the effectiveness of inhaled medications. The NP has a critical role in assessing potential barriers to successful learning by the patient and improving inhaler technique and medication management. The NP can also facilitate success with inhaled medications by providing up-to-date inhaler education for other healthcare team members, who may then act as patient educators.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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