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Asthma experts call for new way forward to improve asthma outcomes in Australia

19 Feb 2019

Australia’s leading asthma experts have called for a rethink of current asthma management practices in a new discussion paper released today by the National Asthma Council Australia. 

The paper ‘Current practice and new approaches in asthma: perspectives of asthma practitioners and patients’ is a collective response from top asthma health professionals, researchers and patients on how the objectives of the 2018 National Asthma Strategy can be achieved.

They say that the next frontier for asthma care will be the use of more sophisticated technology and the emerging precision medicine approach to asthma management. For now, there are potential improvements in current strategies, including exploring changes to medication scheduling to improve access and affordability, and rethinking the key self-management tool of asthma action plans.

Ms Siobhan Brophy, CEO of the National Asthma Council Australia, said that asthma is responsible for considerable morbidity and health care costs in Australia.

“Substantial progress in reducing hospital attendances and mortality was made in the 1990s and early 2000s, but little progress has been observed in the past 10 years, despite substantial healthcare investment.

“Australia is a recognised world leader in asthma prevention, management and research, and we are grateful that this expert group has identified key areas to strengthen asthma care.”

The paper closely aligns with the 2018 Strategy and highlights the following needs:

  • More effective self-management practices that consider the patient’s personal disease experience and their social and environmental context.
  • Further practical training and support for health professionals including communication skills and asthma literacy, the psychological aspects of asthma, and innovative approaches to patient-centred behaviour change.
  • Closing care gaps in asthma diagnosis, medication use and adherence, and current inequities in asthma outcomes, particularly for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • Raising the profile of asthma in the community through education programs and awareness campaigns.
  • Translating the large amount of asthma research into practical knowledge.

Ms Brophy said that it was reassuring to see a strong sense of optimism amongst contributors that Australia was in a strong position to realise further improvements in asthma outcomes.

“Through stakeholder discussions, we were able to draw clear actions and identify new approaches in some areas to strengthen asthma care in Australia, whilst at the same time acknowledging that certain issues require further consideration and consultation.”

The paper is the first step in a series of consultation in a range of areas. The National Asthma Council Australia is currently planning a symposium on asthma action plans to be held soon.

Current practice and new approaches in asthma: perspectives of asthma practitioners and patients’ is available to download online and order in hardcopy through the National Asthma Council Australia website.

Development of the resource was supported by an unrestricted educational grant from AstraZeneca. The National Asthma Council Australia maintained strict editorial independence.

The National Asthma Council Australia has a range of practitioner and patient resources available on its website Download the discussion paper here.

Media enquiries

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

Lelde McCoy, The Reputation Group  

Mob: 0417362768   

Email: [email protected]

NOTE: The discussion paper reflects the views and opinions of the contributors, a diverse group of stakeholders with demonstrated knowledge and expertise in the asthma field:

  • Ms Julianne Badenoch, Registered Nurse, Registered Midwife, and Director, National Asthma Council Australia
  • Professor Amanda Barnard, General Practitioner, and Chair, National Asthma Council Australia Guidelines Committee
  • Associate Professor Nathan Bartlett, Researcher and Senior Lecturer, Viral Immunology and Respiratory Disease, The University of Newcastle
  • Dr Sabrina Campbell, General Practitioner and Aesthetic Physician
  • Ms Naomi Fenton, Nurse Practitioner
  • Mr Brad Gellert, External Relations and Policy Adviser, NPS MedicineWise
  • Ms Kate Green, Respiratory Educator, Asthma Foundation WA
  • Ms Pauline Jacobs, Person with asthma
  • Associate Professor Bandana Saini, Community Pharmacist and Senior Lecturer, University of Sydney, Faculty of Pharmacy
  • Associate Professor Sheryl van Nunen, Clinical Immunologist, Department of Clinical Immunology and Allergy, Royal North Shore Hospital and Clinical Associate Professor, University of Sydney
  • Professor Peter Wark, Respiratory and Sleep Physician, John Hunter Hospital, Newcastle and conjoint Professor, University of Newcastle
  • Dr Kim Watkins, Community Pharmacist, and Lecturer, Curtin University

Project expert advisors

  • Mr Stephen Hughes, Community Pharmacist and Director, National Asthma Council Australia
  • Ms Kristine Whorlow AM, Consultant and inaugural National Asthma Council Australia Chief Executive Officer (1991-2017)