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Guided asthma self-management or patient self-adjustment? Using patients’ narratives to better understand adherence to asthma treatment

Authors Farnesi BC, Ducharme FM, Blais L, Collin J, Lavoie KL, Bacon SL, McKinney ML, Peláez S

Received 3 December 2018

Accepted for publication 14 February 2019

Published 23 April 2019 Volume 2019:13 Pages 587—597

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/PPA.S195585

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Ms Justinn Cochran

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Johnny Chen


Biagina-Carla Farnesi,1 Francine M Ducharme,2,3 Lucie Blais,4 Johanne Collin,4 Kim L Lavoie,5,6 Simon L Bacon,1,6 Martha L McKinney,7 Sandra Peláez3,8

1Department of Health, Kinesiology, and Applied Physiology, Concordia University, Montreal, QC Canada; 2Departments of Pediatrics and of Social and Preventive Sciences, University of Montreal, Montreal, QC Canada; 3Research Centre, CHU Sainte-Justine, University of Montreal, Montreal, QC Canada; 4Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Montreal, Montreal, QC Canada; 5Psychology Department, University of Quebec at Montreal, Montreal, QC Canada; 6Research Center, Sacré-Cœur de Montréal Hospital, CIUSSS du Nord-de-l’Ile-de-Montréal, Montreal, QC Canada; 7CHU Ste-Justine, University of Montreal, Montreal, QC Canada; 8School of Kinesiology and Physical Activity Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to better understand patients’ perspective of asthma self-management by focusing on the sociocultural and medical context shaping patients’ illness representations and individual decisions.
Patients and methods: We conducted a secondary analysis of semi-structured interviews carried out as part of a multicentered collective qualitative case study. In total, 24 patients, aged 2–76 years with a confirmed diagnosis of asthma (or were parents of a child), who renewed the prescription for inhaled corticosteroids in the past year, participated in this study. The thematic analysis focused on asthma-related events and experiences reported by the patients. Consistent with narrative inquiry, similar patterns were grouped together, and three vignettes representing the different realities experienced by the patients were created.
Results: The comparison of experiences and events reported by the patients suggested that patients’ perceptions and beliefs regarding asthma and treatment goals influenced their self-management-related behaviors. More specifically, the medical context in which the patients were followed (ie, frame in which the medical encounter takes place, medical recommendations provided) contributed to shape their understanding of the disease and the associated treatment goals. In turn, a patient’s perception of the disease and the treatment goals influenced asthma self-management behaviors related to environmental control, lifestyle habits, and medication intake.
Conclusion: Current medical recommendations regarding asthma self-management highlight the importance of the physicians’ guidance through the provision of a detailed written action plan and asthma education. These data suggest that while physicians contribute to shaping patients’ beliefs and perceptions about the disease and treatment goals, patients tend to listen to their own experience and manage the disease accordingly. Thus, a medical encounter between the patient and the physician, aiming at enhancing a meaningful conversation about the disease, may lead the patient to approach the disease in a more effective manner, which goes beyond taking preventative paths to avoid symptoms.

Keywords: asthma, adherence, self-management, written action plan, patient-physician relationship, narrative inquiry



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