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Acta Clin Belg. 2018 Oct;73(5):348-355. doi: 10.1080/17843286.2017.1409684. Epub 2017 Dec 11.

Adherence to asthma treatment in childhood and adolescence - a narrative literature review.

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a Department of Pediatrics , Hôpital Erasme, Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) , Brussels , Belgium.
b Department of Pediatrics , Université Catholique de Louvain (UcL), CHU Dinant Godinne/UCL Namur , Yvoir , Belgium.



We provide a narrative literature review on surveys used to assess the level of medication adherence in children and adolescents with asthma, the attitudes of these patients and their parents toward asthma therapy, and their expectations concerning asthma and available treatment.


A PubMed search and manual selection of the retrieved papers was conducted to identify studies using surveys or interviews that addressed one of the three topics of interest.


Adherence to asthma medication varies across age groups and with the type of measurement used. Levels of 49-71% were observed in children and adolescents by objective measurements. Subjective measurements overestimate the level of adherence compared to objective measurements. A considerable percentage of parents expressed fear of side effects of inhaled corticosteroids, although the impact of these concerns on adherence is unclear. Many adolescents and parents adapt inhaled corticosteroids use according to the prevalence of asthma symptoms, by reducing or eliminating controller medication in the absence of symptoms. Pediatric asthma patients and their parents tend to overestimate the level of asthma control, either by underestimating asthma severity or by assuming that a better control is not possible. The knowledge of parents and adolescents concerning asthma management is suboptimal; moreover, insufficient knowledge about inhaled corticosteroids was linked to poor adherence.


Medication adherence is crucial for a good control of asthma symptoms. Additional research concerning the triggers of non-adherence is still needed. Educating both the patients and their parents on proper asthma care might improve adherence.


Adherence; education; inhaled corticosteroids; patient attitude; patient expectations

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