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      Technical Evaluation of Soft Mist Inhaler Use in Patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: A Cross-Sectional Study

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          Proper inhaler technique is highly relevant to the effective management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The tiotropium bromide spray (TBS) (Spiriva ® Respimat ®) is a soft mist inhaler (SMI) preferred by patients to pressurized metered-dose inhalers (pMDIs) and dry powder inhalers (DPIs) because of its convenience in use. However, the technique of using TBS inhaler in the real world is unclear.


          To evaluate techniques in using TBS inhaler and investigate the association between the patient characteristics and the correct use of TBS inhaler.


          This cross-sectional study enrolled 74 COPD patients who used TBS inhaler device for more than 3 months. The sociodemographic and clinical characteristics of the patients were recorded. The technique of using TBS inhaler was evaluated step by step. Incorrect use was defined as the patient’s inability to complete the key steps in the inhalation manoeuvre. The percentage of incorrect use was compared between the groups. Risk factors related to incorrect use were analyzed by logistic regression analysis.


          Of the 74 participants, only 2 (2.7%) patients completed all the steps correctly, and 48 (64.9%) patients misused the key steps in the inhalation manoeuvre. Incorrect preparation of the TBS inhaler for the first use was the most frequently misused step, accounting for 77.0%. Factors associated with misuse of TBS inhaler included the educational background (p=0.010), living state (p=0.031) and COPD assessment test (CAT) score (p=0.005) of the patients. Additionally, logistic regression analysis showed that the COPD duration was significantly associated with the incorrect use (p=0.019). Compared with patients with a higher educational background, patients with an elementary school background [OR 11652.99, CI: 22.72–5975697.72], junior high school background [OR 7187.78, CI: 16.41–3146787] and high school background [OR 1563, CI: 4.27–572329.67] were more likely to misuse TBS inhaler. Patients living with their spouses alone were also more likely to commit errors in using TBS inhaler as compared with those living with their children [OR 12.29, CI of 1.14–1.96]. Clinical factors like the COPD symptoms were relative to the technical use of the device. Better technique was accompanied by a lower CAT score [OR 1.49, CI of 1.14–1.96].


          The incorrect use of TBS inhaler was common in COPD patients. Healthcare providers should not only teach the patients about the drug preparation but help them use the inhaler correctly. Special attention should be paid to patients with a short COPD duration and a low educational background and those who live without the company of their children. Proper use of TBS inhaler can significantly improve the symptom control of COPD patients.

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          Most cited references 19

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          Effect of incorrect use of dry powder inhalers on management of patients with asthma and COPD.

          Incorrect usage of inhaler devices might have a major influence on the clinical effectiveness of the delivered drug. This issue is poorly addressed in management guidelines. This article presents the results of a systematic literature review of studies evaluating incorrect use of established dry powder inhalers (DPIs) by patients with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Overall, we found that between 4% and 94% of patients, depending on the type of inhaler and method of assessment, do not use their inhalers correctly. The most common errors made included failure to exhale before actuation, failure to breath-hold after inhalation, incorrect positioning of the inhaler, incorrect rotation sequence, and failure to execute a forceful and deep inhalation. Inefficient DPI technique may lead to insufficient drug delivery and hence to insufficient lung deposition. As many as 25% of patients have never received verbal inhaler technique instruction, and for those that do, the quality and duration of instruction is not adequate and not reinforced by follow-up checks. This review demonstrates that incorrect DPI technique with established DPIs is common among patients with asthma and COPD, and suggests that poor inhalation technique has detrimental consequences for clinical efficacy. Regular assessment and reinforcement of correct inhalation technique are considered by health professionals and caregivers to be an essential component of successful asthma management. Improvement of asthma and COPD management could be achieved by new DPIs that are easy to use correctly and are forgiving of poor inhalation technique, thus ensuring more successful drug delivery.
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            Importance of inhaler devices in the management of airway disease.

            The delivery of drugs by inhalation is an integral component of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) management. However, even with effective inhaled pharmacological therapies, asthma, particularly, remains poorly controlled around the world. The reasons for this are manifold, but limitations of treatment guidelines in terms of content, implementation and relevance to everyday clinical life, including insufficient patient education, access to health care and cost of medication as well as poor inhaler technique are likely to contribute. Considering that inhalation therapy is a cornerstone in asthma and COPD management, little advice is provided in the guidelines regarding inhaler selection. The pressurised metered dose inhaler (pMDI) is still the most frequently prescribed device worldwide, but even after repeated tuition many patients fail to use it correctly. In addition, the correct technique can be lost over time. Although several improvements in pMDIs such as a change in the propellant and actuation have resulted in improvements in lung deposition, many dry powder inhalers (DPIs) are easier to use. However, these devices also have limitations such as dependency of drug particle size on flow rate and loss of the metered dose if the patient exhales through the device before inhaling. Improvements in using inhalation devices more efficiently, in inhaler design for supporting patient compliance, and advances in inhaler technology to assure drug delivery to the lungs, have the potential to improve asthma and COPD management and control. New and advanced devices are considered being helpful to minimise the most important problems patients have with current DPIs.
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              Inhalation drug delivery devices: technology update

              The pulmonary route of administration has proven to be effective in local and systemic delivery of miscellaneous drugs and biopharmaceuticals to treat pulmonary and non-pulmonary diseases. A successful pulmonary administration requires a harmonic interaction between the drug formulation, the inhaler device, and the patient. However, the biggest single problem that accounts for the lack of desired effect or adverse outcomes is the incorrect use of the device due to lack of training in how to use the device or how to coordinate actuation and aerosol inhalation. This review summarizes the structural and mechanical features of aerosol delivery devices with respect to mechanisms of aerosol generation, their use with different formulations, and their advantages and limitations. A technological update of the current state-of-the-art designs proposed to overcome current challenges of existing devices is also provided.

                Author and article information

                Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis
                Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis
                International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
                22 June 2020
                : 15
                : 1471-1479
                [1 ]Department of Pharmacy, Shanghai Pulmonary Hospital, Tongji University School of Medicine , Shanghai 200433, People’s Republic of China
                [2 ]Department of Pharmacy, Changhai Hospital Affiliated to The Second Military Medical University , Shanghai 200433, People’s Republic of China
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Zhuo Wang; Yuping Li Email;

                These authors contributed equally to this work

                © 2020 Zhang et al.

                This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms (

                Page count
                Figures: 3, Tables: 2, References: 25, Pages: 9
                Funded by: Shanghai “medical new star” young medical clinical pharmacist training program
                Funded by: Subject support program of Shanghai Pulmonary Hospital
                This study was supported by Shanghai “medical new star” young medical clinical pharmacist training program and Subject support program of Shanghai Pulmonary Hospital.
                Original Research


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