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Population Health

Communicating with Patients About Asthma and Allergy Self-Management

How do providers communicate critical information about asthma and allergy self-management to patients—especially those with low health literacy and those at risk economically, socially, and culturally—to achieve optimal asthma control? Improved outcomes are achievable by implementing strategies to address disparities, thereby increasing satisfaction with care.

Here Are Some Strategies to Consider:

  • Develop an individualized, language-appropriate asthma action plan specific to the stage the patient is at currently. To address low health literacy issues, consider using a highly visual written action plan that uses colorful images for explanations.
    • Include the patient’s primary caregiver in the discussion.
    • Review each step slowly and at the patient’s level of health literacy and understanding.
    • Emphasize the difference between quick-relief and long-term inhalers. Stress the need for using the long-term inhaler consistently.
    • Highlight critical points that indicate a need for action, such as when to call the practice, use urgent care, or go to the emergency department.
    • Coordinate the action plan with schools, as appropriate.
  • Coordinate with social services for assistance with local resources and programs that address care and medication costs.
  • Talk with your patients about environmental conditions for triggers, especially smoke, dust, cockroach debris, mouse dander, and mold, which may be prevalent in their environments.
  • Enlist the aid of social services or local community health services to assist with home assessments, follow-up visits, and environmental remediation.

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