Assessing Primary Care Physician’s Beliefs and Attitudes of Asthma Exacerbation Treatment and Follow-Up

The Open Respiratory Medicine Journal 22 Feb 2010 RESEARCH ARTICLE DOI: 10.2174/1874306401004010009



The objective of this survey was to assess adult primary care physicians’ and pediatricians’ perceptions of asthma exacerbation management, including beliefs concerning the discharge of patients from the emergency department (ED) following asthma exacerbations.


This was a cross-sectional survey of primary care physicians (PCPs) treating adult or pediatric patients. Surveys were mailed to physicians and included questions on how PCPs define an exacerbation, how they are notified and how they followed-up with their patients who experienced exacerbations.


A total of 189 physicians were targeted in this survey, with 124 (65%) returning a completed survey. The majority of physicians agreed that an exacerbation included worsening asthma requiring a course of oral corticosteroids (83%). However, ≥70% of physicians agreed that an exacerbation could also include events which did not require OCS. Overall, 71% of PCPs believed that the majority of their patients’ asthma exacerbations were treated in the doctor’s office with only 6% believing the majority were treated in the ED. Over 90% of PCPs surveyed said they scheduled a follow-up with their patients “all or most of the time” when notified of an ED visit for an asthma exacerbation. Of the adult PCPs surveyed, 20% said they were never notified when one of their patients received treatment in the hospital because of an asthma exacerbation, whereas only 10% of pediatricians said they were never notified. The majority of PCPs surveyed (79%) indicated that if a controller medication was warranted, the ED staff should initiate treatment at time of discharge.


This study showed that healthcare providers may not share a common definition of an asthma exacerbation. In addition, most physicians believe that the majority of exacerbations are treated in their office or at home. Further, most agreed that if a controller medication was warranted, the ED or urgent care staff should initiate treatment.

Keywords: Asthma, exacerbations, emergency department, primary care..
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