Media Releases

Health professionals urged to check patient inhaler technique to improve respiratory outcomes

18 Jul 2016

The National Asthma Council Australia is urging health professionals to proactively check their patients’ inhaler technique, with research showing up to 90% of patients incorrectly use their inhalers for asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Moreover, the patient's own assessment of their ability is not a reliable guide. An Australian study has found that 75 per cent of patients using an inhaler for two to three years reported they were using their inhaler correctly, but on objective checking, only 10 percent had the correct technique.[i]  [ii]

To combat the problem, the National Asthma Council Australia has launched updated versions of its popular information paper for health professionals and demonstration video series on inhaler technique for people with asthma or COPD.  

“It’s really hard for health professionals to keep track of all the inhalers, especially given the number of new devices that have become available in the past few years,” said National Asthma Council Australia asthma and respiratory educator, Ms Judi Wicking.

“And many health professionals don’t realise how common poor technique is, nor how big an impact this can have on asthma and COPD management.

“The good news is that correcting patients’ inhaler technique has been shown to improve lung function, quality of life and asthma control.”

The updated information paper not only summarises the latest evidence on the prevalence and impact of incorrect technique, but also includes checklists for using the expanding range of new respiratory devices available on the market. Ten different devices are featured in the information paper and videos.

Each how-to video shows Ms. Wicking and a patient demonstrating correct technique for the device, accompanied by simple captions of the key steps.

“The paper reflects the advice in the Australian Asthma Handbook, which recommends that inhaler technique should always be checked before considering dose escalation or add-on therapy,” said Ms. Wicking.

Given their important role in correcting patients’ inhaler technique the National Asthma Council Australia advises health professionals should first check their own technique, especially for new devices, by downloading or ordering the information paper and watching the videos.

The downloadable information paper was developed by a multidisciplinary team of experts in inhaler technique including Associate Professor Helen Reddel, Associate Professor Sinthia Bosnic-Anticevich, Dr Tim Foo and Ms. Wicking.

The National Asthma Council Australia suggests that health professionals should ask patients to show them how they use their inhalers and then provide one-on-one training to ensure that proper technique is used.

Groups most likely to use inhalers incorrectly included young children, older adults, people with severe airflow limitation and people using more than one type of inhaler device. [iii] [iv]

The information paper and video are targeted towards doctors, practice nurses, pharmacists and other health professionals working in General Practice, hospitals and pharmacies.

The expanded video series was developed independently by the National Asthma Council Australia with support from untied educational grants from AstraZeneca, GSK Australia, Boehringer Ingelheim, Meda Pharmaceuticals and Menarini Australia. The updated information paper was developed independently by the National Asthma Council Australia.

For more information on the downloadable document and how-to videos please visit the National Asthma Council Australia

Inhaler Use Infographic Final

Media enquiries

For further information, or to arrange an interview with a National Asthma Council Australia spokesperson, please contact:

Lelde McCoy The Reputation Group  Tel: 03 92341205  Mob: 0417362768


[i] Basheti IA, Armour CL, Bosnic-Anticevich SZ, Reddel HK. Evaluation of a novel educational strategy, including inhaler-based reminder labels, to improve asthma inhaler technique. Patient Educ Couns 2008; 72: 26-33.

[ii] Bosnic-Anticevich SZ, Sinha H, So S, Reddel HK. Metered dose inhaler technique: the effect of two educational interventions delivered in community pharmacy over time. J Asthma 2010; 47: 251-6.

[iii] Capanoglu M, Dibek Misirlioglu E, Toyran M et al. Evaluation of inhaler technique, adherence to therapy and their effect on disease control among children with asthma using metered dose or dry powder inhalers. J Asthma 2015; 52: 838-45.

[iv] Lavorini F, Magnan A, Dubus JC et al. Effect of incorrect use of dry powder inhalers on management of patients with asthma and COPD. Respir Med 2008; 102: 593-604.