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Asthma Action Plans: Help Patients Take Control

GIP Priority Message: Use Written Asthma Action Plans

All people with asthma should receive a written asthma action plan to guide their self-management efforts.

Provide a written asthma action plan to guide daily and emergency care

Many patients have difficulty recalling instructions for care that are given by their health care provider. A written asthma action plan (AAP) provides instruction and information on how to self-manage one’s asthma daily, including taking medications appropriately, and identifying and avoiding exposure to allergens and irritants that can bring about asthma symptoms. In addition, the AAP provides information on how to recognize and handle worsening asthma, and when, how, and who to contact in an emergency.

AAPs should be easy for patients and their families to understand and presented in a format that encourages self-management. In addition, AAPs serve as the vehicle of coordination across multiple caregivers and as a linking mechanism between community and clinical sites. For children, these plans should be made simple and easy for schools, school nurses, and school-based health centers to use. Communicating the policies that guide use of AAPs at various points of care will reinforce their use.

Encourage patients' adherence to the written asthma action plan

  • Choose treatment that achieves outcomes and addresses preferences that are important to the patient, and remind patients that adherence will help them achieve the outcomes they want.
  • Review with the patient at each visit the success of the treatment plan in achieving asthma control and make adjustments as needed.
  • Review patients' concerns about their asthma or treatment at every visit. Inquire about any difficulties encountered in adhering to the written asthma action plan.
  • Assess the patient's and family's level of social support, and encourage family involvement.
  • Tailor the self-management approach to the needs and literacy levels of the patient, and maintain sensitivity to cultural beliefs and ethnocultural practices.
  • Observe skills for self-management, for example, inhaler technique, use of a valved holding chamber or spacer, and self-monitoring.

Last Updated January 2013