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28-07-2010 | Respiratory | Article

Knowledge of asthma guidelines poor among healthcare professionals


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MedWire News: More needs to be done to increase knowledge of asthma management guidelines among healthcare professionals in the UK, results from an online questionnaire suggest.

The British Thoracic Society and Scottish Intercollegiate Guideline Network (BTS/SIGN) guideline for the management of asthma has been updated regularly since its first publication in 2003, explain Hilary Pinnock (University of Edinburgh, UK) and team.

A summary of the BTS/SIGN guidelines was published on the UK General Practice Airways Group website in 2008, offering "an opportunity to test the knowledge of visitors… using a web-based questionnaire," they add.

The questionnaire consisted of 11 questions, each reflecting a key point from one of the chapters of the guidelines. Visitors to the site were invited to complete the questions before reading the summary of the guidelines.

In total, 413 people completed the questionnaire, including 96 general practitioners (GPs), 237 primary care nurses, 38 secondary care nurses, and 42 "other" healthcare professionals.

Analysis of the results revealed that the average score was 5.2 out of a possible score of 11, with 24 respondents answering all the questions correctly and three returning no correct answers.

Of the medical professionals, secondary care nurses had the highest mean score, at 5.7, while GPs had the lowest mean score, at 4.6. Primary care nurses had a mean score of 5.5 and "other" medical professionals had a mean score of 4.7.

The difference in mean scores between primary care nurses and GPs was significant, but the difference in scores between primary and secondary care nurses was not significant, the researchers note in the Primary Care Respiratory Journal.

While acknowledging the limitations of an online questionnaire, Pinnock and team conclude: "On average, the respondents to our web-survey answered less than half the questions correctly, suggesting that despite two decades of asthma guideline publication and considerable time and resources devoted to dissemination there is still much to do to ensure that every healthcare professional is familiar with guideline recommendations."

They add: "Compliance with guidelines is multifactorial, but improving healthcare professionals' knowledge of asthma is an important prerequisite."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Mark Cowen

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