Research article – Open Access – Open Peer Review
Patient awareness of asthma severity is important for optimal asthma management. However, there is often a discrepancy between physician assessment of asthma control based on guidelines and patient discernment of control. We compared physician and patient perception of asthma control in a clinic population seen at a tertiary hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
In this cross-sectional study, 182 consecutive patients with a physician diagnosis of asthma seen in Chest Clinic at Tikur Anbessa Specialized Hospital (TASH) between July and December 2015 were studied. Demographics, asthma symptoms, medication use in the past month, and self-perception of asthma control in the past 7 days were obtained from the clinic records. Physician assessed asthma control was based on the GINA asthma symptom control assessment tool. Lung function was measured using a Diagnostic EasyOne Plus model 2001 SN spirometer. The institutional review board approved the study protocol.
Of the 182 subjects, 68.1% were female. The mean age was 52 ± 12 years, and the mean (SD) duration of asthma was 19.4 ± 12.7 years. Forty-four (24.2%) patients had physician determined well-controlled asthma and 138 (75.8%) patients had physician determined partly controlled/uncontrolled asthma. One hundred and fifty-one (83%) patients thought their asthma control was good. However, the degree of concordance between physician evaluation and patient perception of asthma control was low (kappa index = 0.09). On multivariate analysis, self-perceived poor asthma control was associated with any activity limitation due to asthma and inconsistent inhaled corticosteroid use.
In our study, the first of its kind in Ethiopia, a high percent of patients with physician determined well-controlled asthma has appropriate perception of their disease state. However, those patients with partly controlled/uncontrolled asthma had poor self-perception of their disease, emphasizing the need for further patient education. These conclusions may be especially useful in the care of asthmatics from other low-income countries.