National Survey of Uncontrolled Asthma Patients Finds Majority Mistakenly Believe Their Asthma Is Under Control

New data suggests a false sense of confidence in managing condition

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) released data today from a new national survey that shows that 67% of adults with uncontrolled asthma in the U.S. are living with the misperception that their condition is under control. The survey results may suggest uncontrolled patients feel a false sense of confidence in managing their condition that may cause  recurring symptoms and visits to the doctor, emergency room, and urgent care clinics.

The State of Uncontrolled Asthma Patients in America Survey, funded and developed by GSK, included 1,016 patients who scored 5–19 on the Asthma Control Test (ACT)—a level of asthma management considered to be “uncontrolled.” Patients who scored 5–15 on the ACT were classified as “very poorly controlled,” while patients who scored 16–19 were classified as “not well controlled.”

Survey respondents were diagnosed with asthma at least one year ago; scored below 20 on the ACT, indicating their asthma may not be well controlled; and had not been diagnosed with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema, and a cancer of the head, neck, esophagus, or lung.  The survey also included questions from the Brief Illness Perception Questionnaire and the Self-Efficacy for Managing Chronic Disease Stanford Scale. Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation.

The survey found that the misperception of asthma control is pervasive. The findings show that among “not-well controlled” surveyed asthma patients, 78% believe that they actually do have their asthma under control. Among those classified as “very poorly controlled,” 55% reported thinking their asthma is under control.

“Understanding patient misperceptions of their degree of asthma control is critical to improving the quality of their asthma care,” said Mark Forshag, MD, a pulmonologist and U.S. Medical Affairs Lead at GSK. “The survey illustrates there is still a significant need to help patients go beyond merely coping with symptoms to managing their condition. We encourage patients talk to their doctor about proactively managing their asthma and appropriate treatment options.”

Seventy-six percent of respondents who think their asthma is under control feel confident that they can do the tasks and activities needed to manage their condition in order to reduce their need to see a doctor. However, 64% of these patients visited a health care provider as a result of their asthma symptoms, averaging three visits over the past 12 months.

While many uncontrolled asthma patients state they try to proactively manage their condition with medication and trigger avoidance, nearly three in four (74%) experience symptoms multiple times a week. Additionally, while 89% of uncontrolled asthma patients are confident they are capable of changing certain behaviors to better manage their condition, only half of these patients report having a clear understanding of their illness. This false sense of confidence suggests patients may lack the necessary tools to effectively engage in the management of their disease.

The survey found that recurring symptoms, lack of understanding, tools, and resources might result in increased visits to the doctor, emergency room, and urgent care facility due to their condition:

  • One in five (20%) uncontrolled asthma patients needed to visit an emergency room or urgent care facility due to their condition in the past 12 months.
  • Surveyed patients with “very poorly controlled” asthma are nearly twice as likely to have visited an emergency room or urgent care facility in the last year due to their condition, compared to those with “not well controlled” asthma (27% versus 15%).
  • Forty percent of those who used a rescue inhaler at least three times a day in the past month visited an emergency room or urgent care facility in the last year, compared to 18% of those who did not used a rescue inhaler that often.

According to the survey, uncontrolled asthma takes a heavy toll on those with the condition, keeping many patients from living a full life and proving to be a frequent source of stress.

  • Seventy percent of uncontrolled asthma patients who believe their asthma is under control go on to report that their condition holds them back from doing things they’d like to do—interfering with exercise (85%), sleep (78%), enjoyment of life (67%), and social life (45%) in the past 12 months.
  • Fifty-three percent of those who are employed missed work in the past 12 months because of their asthma and, on average, missed eight days of work.
  • More than half (56%) of uncontrolled asthma patients admit their condition is a source of stress in their life.

Source: GlaxoSmithKline; May 3, 2016.