Factors associated with appropriate inhaler use in patients with COPD - lessons from the REAL survey

David Price, Dorothy L Keininger, Boomi Viswanad, Matthias Gasser, Susann Walda, Florian S Gutzwiller

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58 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Nonadherence to medication and incorrect use of inhalers represent significant barriers to optimal disease management of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Thus, health care professionals (HCPs) play a critical role in educating their patients on appropriate inhaler use and in ensuring medication adherence. However, many patients do not receive appropriate inhaler training or have not had their inhaler technique checked.

Methods: The Real-life Experience and Accuracy of inhaLer use (REAL) survey was a computer-assisted, telephonic survey consisting of 23 questions gathering real-world information on correct inhaler use, inhalation technique, device attributes, adherence, dosing accuracy, training, correct device use, ease of use, and factors that influence patient adherence in commercially available inhalers delivering COPD maintenance therapy. All results are based on patient-reported data.

Results: The survey was conducted between January 4, 2016 and February 2, 2016. A total of 764 patients using various inhalers (Breezhaler®=186; Ellipta®=191; Genuair®=194; Respimat®=201) with mild to very severe COPD, with a mean ± SD age 56±9.8 years, completed the survey. Patient self-reported adherence was significantly lower in younger patients compared to older patients (p=0.020). Eighty-three percent of patients indicated that a demonstration (in-person) was "very helpful" versus 58% for video. Patient preferences for training methods were as follows: demonstration of inhaler use (83%), video (58%), instructions for use (51%), and leaflet (34%). Twenty-nine percent of patients had not been checked to see if they were using their device correctly by a HCP within the last two years. Patients who were checked were significantly more adherent than unchecked patients (p=0.020). The majority of the patients using Breezhaler reported either being very confident or confident of having taken a full dose, which was higher than those using Genuair, Ellipta (α=0.05), and Respimat (α=0.05). Treatment adherence in the last 30 days was highest with Breezhaler followed by Respimat, Ellipta, and Genuair.

Conclusion: The REAL survey identified attributes that influenced patient adherence and optimal inhaler use. Predictive attributes that influence patient adherence which HCPs should be aware of include age and disease severity. Modifiable attributes which the HCP can influence include correct inhaler use training, choice of training methods, checking patient inhaler technique at subsequent visits, and device selection. Inhalers are integral in the effective management of patients with COPD; it is therefore important that patients use the inhaler correctly and have full confidence in the dosage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)695-702
Number of pages8
JournalInternational journal of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 26 Feb 2018

Bibliographical note

The authors thank Clarice Field (PhD) and Paul McKiernan
(PhD) of Novartis for providing medical writing support,
which was funded by Novartis AG, Basel, Switzerland,
in accordance with Good Publication Practice (GPP3)
guidelines (http://www.ismpp.org/gpp3). Pankaj Goyal
and Joao Mendes, Novartis Pharma AG, Basel, contributed
to the design and conceptualization of study. The survey
was designed by PDD, London, United Kingdom, and GfK
Switzerland AG, Basel, Switzerland. The survey was conducted
by GfK Switzerland AG, Basel, Switzerland, and
sponsored by Novartis Pharma AG, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Journal Article
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • survey
  • inhaler use
  • adherence
  • dose confidence
  • double dosing


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