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March 2010

Asthma Self-Management Sessions Result in Fewer ER Visits

Susan Janson, D.N.Sc., R.N., A.N.P., C.N.S.
Nurse Practitioner Asthma Clinic
UCSF Medical Center
UCSF Professor of Nursing and Medicine

More than 20 million Americans suffer from asthma. Three UCSF research studies found that with consultation and self-management education, patients better managed the disease. The studies found:

  • Patients better manage their chronic diseases when there is a strong patient-clinician relationship.

  • A 30-minute, self-management educational session decreased symptoms and reduced biological markers of airway inflammation. The intervention focuses on:

    • Airway inflammation and bronchospasm
    • Asthma medications and how they work
    • Correct use of prescribed inhalers
    • Controlling aggravating environmental factors
    • Personalized, written asthma action plan to manage exacerbations
    • Self-assessment for asthma control

Patients educated in self-management have greater adherence to inhaled corticosteroid medication and better perceived control of asthma. They also had fewer or no emergency department visits for asthma. Each year, asthma cases account for about a quarter of all visits to the emergency room, one of the most expensive areas for delivering medical care.

The self-management education session is provided one-on-one during an appointment at the UCSF Asthma Clinic. Patients get hands on practice and see models, pictures and diagrams. They also receive a written color-coded asthma action plan and practice inhaler devices to take home.

UCSF is working to develop an online asthma management tool that would be available to the public, possibly later this year.

UCSF Asthma Clinic

The UCSF Asthma Clinic, in the UCSF Ambulatory Care Center at 400 Parnassus Ave., San Francisco, is open on Thursdays from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Patients who may benefit from a visit to the clinic are those who have had recent acute care and emergency department visits for asthma, and those with continuing symptoms despite treatment.

Other Resources

For more information, contact the Physician Referral Service at UCSF Medical Center:

Phone (888) 689-UCSF or (888) 689-8273
Email referral.center@ucsfmedctr.org