If someone wanted a short guide to asthma, would this be the right one to recommend?
I’m not sure. While its deliberate brevity limits detail, the positives are that its format is attractive and information is systematically covered and accurate.
However, there are some downsides and plenty of useful information that is missing. Essentials such as flu vaccination, inhaler technique, smoking cessation and exercise are discussed with no greater emphasis than other aspects such as occupational asthma or allergies. A helpful addition would have been what happens at a routine check up and advice on liaising with clinical staff to draw up a treatment plan. Pointers to other sources of information such as NHS choices or on-line videos demonstrating inhaler technique would have been useful. Recent trends such as inhalers from big supermarkets sold under patient group directives for less than an English NHS dispensing fee, e-cigarettes, and the recently altered role of school nursing and teaching staff in administering medication could also have been useful if included. Patients would wish to know the difference between asthma and COPD, what guidelines their clinicians are currently following, and have a chart to look at quickly to help know when to worry.
The author has a background in biomedical sciences and it would be great if a practice nurse or perhaps a pharmacist with a specialised interest were to write a similar guide with a slightly different focus.
Dr Grace Gibson is a GP in Hull