GPs are urged to offer all patients with asthma a tailored, written asthma action plan, in newly revised asthma guidelines from the main advisory bodies.
The updates to the guidance from the British Thoracic Society (BTS) and Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) – the gold-standard for asthma management in the UK – significantly raise the prominence of supported self-management in caring for asthma patients.
The self-management chapter, which now comes ahead of sections on pharmacological and non-pharmacological management, states that ‘self-management education, supported by a written personalised asthma action plan, should be offered to all patients on general practice “active asthma” registers’.
The guidance adds: ‘Primary care practices should ensure that they have trained professionals and an environment conducive to providing supported self-management.’
The Primary Care Respiratory Society (PCRS-UK) said it ‘wholeheartedly endorses’ the revised guidance, which also includes rewrites of the sections on non-pharmacological management and the organisation of asthma care pathways.
Dr Duncan Keeley, from PCRS-UK executive and a GP in Thame, Oxfordshire, told Pulse the self-supported management updates were ‘the most important change’ to the guidelines, and were supported by ‘overwhelming evidence’.
Dr Keeley said: ‘There is now overwhelming evidence from trials – which are all referenced in the guidelines – that using personal asthma action plans improves outcomes.
‘The vast majority of asthma care and the review of patients with asthma goes on in primary care, so GPs and asthma nurses need to be thinking more of giving patients clear self-management plans to control their symptoms when they get worse.’
He added: ‘[The revised guidance] is a further and more powerful statement of the evidence that this is a beneficial intervention for people with asthma. I think that is the most important change.’