Empowering Family Physicians to Impart Proper Inhaler Teaching to Patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Asthma
BACKGROUND: Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma depend on inhalers for management, but critical errors committed during inhaler use can limit drug effectiveness. Outpatient education in inhaler technique remains inconsistent due to limited resources and inadequate provider knowledge.OBJECTIVE: To determine whether a simple, two-session inhaler education program can improve physician attitudes toward inhaler teaching in primary care practice.METHODS: An inhaler education program with small-group hands-on device training was instituted for family physicians (FP) in British Columbia and Alberta. Sessions were spaced one to three months apart. All critical errors were corrected in the first session. Questionnaires surveying current inhaler teaching practices and attitudes toward inhaler teaching were distributed to physicians before and after the program.RESULTS: Forty-one (60%) of a total 68 participating FPs completed both before and after program questionnaires. Before the program, only 20 (49%) reported providing some form of inhaler teaching in their practices, and only four (10%) felt fully competent to teach patients inhaler technique. After the program, 40 (98%) rated their inhaler teaching as good to excellent. Thirty-four (83%) reported providing inhaler teaching in their practices, either by themselves or by an allied health care professional they had personally trained. All stated they could teach inhaler technique within 5 min. Observation of FPs during the second session by certified respiratory educators found that none made critical errors and all had excellent technique.CONCLUSION: A physician inhaler education program can improve attitudes toward inhaler teaching and facilitate implementation in clinical practices.