Perspectives of mild asthma patients on maintenance versus as-needed preventer treatment regimens: a qualitative study.
Foster J., Beasley R., Braithwaite I., Harrison T., Holliday M., Pavord I., Reddel H.
OBJECTIVES: As-needed low-dose combination budesonide-formoterol is recommended by asthma guidelines in many countries as an alternative to maintenance inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) for treatment of mild asthma, but there are few data on patient attitudes toward these regimens. This study explored the comparative implementation experiences and future treatment preferences of mild asthma patients who had experienced these two treatment regimens. SETTING: A subgroup of adults randomised to maintenance ICS or as-needed ICS-formoterol in a multinational, 52-week open-label randomised controlled trial (NovelSTART) in mild asthma patients were interviewed to explore their motivations for treatment use during the study and their preferences for future treatment. PARTICIPANTS: Semistructured interviews were conducted with 74 participants (Maintenance group: n=39, As-needed group n=35, mean age 38 (range 19-69)) and thematically analysed from transcribed audiorecordings. RESULTS: Emergent themes from analysis comprised: 'How much my asthma affects me' (how their asthma's impact affected their self-management motivation); 'What I know about asthma' (limited knowledge impeded appropriate self-management decision making); 'How much effort this treatment regimen involves for me' (treatment complexity and/or difficulty establishing a medication routine impeded implementation, particularly in the Maintenance group); and 'My beliefs about the benefits and risks of this treatment' (patients who considered their treatment as ineffective, eg, limited difference in symptoms relative to salbutamol (both groups) or slower onset of relief (As-needed group) had poor motivation to use the treatment). Due to the simplicity of the as-needed combination strategy, this was the preferred future regimen, even by patients who had not yet tried it. CONCLUSIONS: Key patient perspectives on the implementation of preventer treatments for mild asthma included factors relating to perceived asthma burden, disease knowledge, treatment complexity and treatment usefulness or safety. The as-needed budesonide-formoterol regimen was preferred to maintenance ICS treatment in mild asthma though patient education is urgently needed to address implementation motivation. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: ACTRN12615000999538.