OBJECTIVES: Overuse of asthma relievers is associated with significant adverse consequences. This study aimed to better understand the population purchasing and using short-acting beta agonists (SABA) over the counter (OTC); and compare the demographic, clinical and behavioural characteristics of those who overuse SABA with those who do not.
DESIGN AND SETTING: Real-world cross-sectional observational study in community pharmacy.
PARTICIPANTS: Of 412 participants ≥16 years requesting SABA OTC, 289 were SABA overusers (used SABA more than twice per week in the past 4 weeks).
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Reliever use, Global Initiative for Asthma-defined control, healthcare utilisation, patterns of preventer use.
RESULTS: 70.1% of participants were classified as SABA overusers, that is, reporting SABA use more than twice a week within the last 4 weeks, 73.6% reported not using a preventer daily and only 81.6% reported a doctor diagnosis of asthma. SABA overusers were more likely to have moderate-severe nasal symptoms (80.8% vs 63.0%, p<0.001) and a diagnosis of depression (11.1% vs 5.7%, p<0.001), when compared with SABA non-overusers. A higher proportion of SABA overusers had uncontrolled asthma (59.0% vs 15.4%, p<0.001), were more likely to use oral corticosteroids to manage worsening asthma symptoms (26.2% vs 13.5%, p<0.01) and visit the doctor for their asthma in the past 12 months (74.5% vs 62.5%, p<0.01), when compared to SABA non-overusers.
CONCLUSIONS: This study uncovers a hidden population of people who can only be identified in pharmacy with suboptimal asthma, coexisting rhinitis, poor preventer adherence and, in some cases, no asthma diagnosis.
- chronic airways disease
- respiratory medicine (see thoracic medicine)