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      COPD: misuse of inhaler devices in clinical practice

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          Background and objectives: Inhalers mishandling remain an important clinical issue worldwide. The aim of this study was to evaluate inhalation technique in stable COPD out-patients. The variables under study were type of inhaler device (ID), patients’ preference for an inhaler, number of IDs used by each patient, beliefs about inhaler medication and some demographic, clinical and functional patients' characteristics. We aim to assess how they are related to inhalation technique.

          Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in a hospital outpatient respiratory care. COPD patients over 40 years old, diagnosed according to GOLD criteria, and using IDs were included consecutively. The Beliefs about Medicines Questionnaire (BMQ), a demographic and a clinical survey were applied. The number of IDs used by each patient and the patients’ preference for some IDs were recorded. Patients were asked to demonstrate the use of their prescribed inhalation devices, and inhaler technique was assessed by using previously defined checklists, including essential steps and critical errors. A statistics analysis was then performed.

          Results: We studied 300 subjects performing a total of 521 inhalation manoeuvers with 10 different IDs. At least one step incorrectly performed was found in 48.2% of demonstrations and in 29.9% critical errors were observed. Misuse was related to priming/loading in 6.9%, to inhalation manoeuver in 13.1% and to both in 10%. There was a statistically significant association between critical errors and type of ID ( P<0.001). No significant relationship was found between correct performance of key manoeuvers and patients’ preference or number of inhalers used per patient. Misuse due to critical errors was observed in 39.3% of patients and was positively related to female gender, age ≥65, lower education level and lower socioeconomic status (higher Graffar classification score), but not to patients’ clinical or functional characteristics. In the sub-group of patients presenting critical errors when using IDs, there was a statistically significant inverse association between BMQ Necessity score and number of critical errors.

          Conclusions: Inhalers mishandling remains disappointingly common. A good inhalation technique depends on the type of ID, and failure of inhalation manoeuver was the main cause of ID misuse. It was not associated to multiple inhalers’ use nor to patient’s preference, but to the patient’s beliefs about the necessity to use them. Elderly patients, women and those with lower education level or lower socioeconomic status demonstrate a worse inhalation technique.

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          Most cited references 19

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          The need to improve inhalation technique in Europe: a report from the Aerosol Drug Management Improvement Team.

          Although the principles of asthma management are well established in Europe, the available data indicate that asthma in patients is not well controlled. Many patients derive incomplete benefit from their inhaled medication because they do not use inhaler devices correctly and this may compromise asthma control. The Aerosol Drug Management Improvement Team (ADMIT), incorporating clinicians from the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and The Netherlands, reviewed published evidence to examine ways to improve the treatment of reversible airways disease in Europe. Data indicate that there is a clear need for specific training of patients in correct inhalation technique for the various devices currently available, and this should be repeated frequently to maintain correct inhalation technique. Devices which provide reassurance to patients and their physicians that inhalation is performed correctly should help to improve patient compliance and asthma control. Educational efforts should also focus on primary prescribers of inhaler devices. ADMIT recommends dissemination of information on the correct inhalation technique for each model of device by the use of an accessible dedicated literature base or website which would enable to match the appropriate inhaler to the individual patient. There is also a need for standardisation of prescribing practices throughout Europe. Regular checking of inhalation technique by prescribers is crucial as correct inhalation is one of the keystones of successful asthma management.
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            Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbation and inhaler device handling: real-life assessment of 2935 patients.

            Acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can be prevented by inhaled treatment. Errors in inhaler handling, not taken into account in clinical trials, could impact drug delivery and minimise treatment benefit. We aimed to assess real-life inhaler device handling in COPD patients and its association with COPD exacerbations.To this end, 212 general practitioners and 50 pulmonologists assessed the handling of 3393 devices used for continuous treatment of COPD in 2935 patients. Handling errors were observed in over 50% of handlings, regardless of the device used. Critical errors compromising drug delivery were respectively made in 15.4%, 21.2%, 29.3%, 43.8%, 46.9% and 32.1% of inhalation assessment tests with Breezhaler® (n=876), Diskus® (n=452), Handihaler® (n=598), pressurised metered-dose inhaler (pMDI) (n=422), Respimat® (n=625) and Turbuhaler® (n=420).The proportion of patients requiring hospitalisation or emergency room visits in the past 3 months for severe COPD exacerbation was 3.3% (95% CI 2.0-4.5) in the absence of error and 6.9% (95% CI 5.3-8.5) in the presence of critical error (OR 1.86, 95% CI 1.14-3.04, p<0.05).Handling errors of inhaler devices are underestimated in real life and are associated with an increased rate of severe COPD exacerbation. Training in inhaler use is an integral part of COPD management.
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              Critical inhaler errors in asthma and COPD: a systematic review of impact on health outcomes

              Background Inhaled drug delivery is the cornerstone treatment for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, use of inhaler devices can be challenging, potentially leading to critical errors in handling that can significantly reduce drug delivery to the lungs and effectiveness of treatment. Methods A systematic review was conducted to define ‘critical’ errors and their impact on health outcomes and resource use between 2004 and 2016, using key search terms for inhaler errors in asthma and COPD (Search-1) and associated health-economic and patient burden (Search-2). Results Search-1 identified 62 manuscripts, 47 abstracts, and 5 conference proceedings (n = 114 total). Search-2 identified 9 studies. We observed 299 descriptions of critical error. Age, education status, previous inhaler instruction, comorbidities and socioeconomic status were associated with worse handling error frequency. A significant association was found between inhaler errors and poor disease outcomes (exacerbations), and greater health-economic burden. Conclusions We have shown wide variations in how critical errors are defined, and the evidence shows an important association between inhaler errors and worsened health outcomes. Given the negative impact diminished disease outcomes impose on resource use, our findings highlight the importance of achieving optimal inhaler technique, and a need for a consensus on defining critical and non-critical errors. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (10.1186/s12931-017-0710-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

                Author and article information

                Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis
                Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis
                International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
                30 May 2019
                : 14
                : 1209-1217
                [1 ]Life and Health Sciences Research Institute (ICVS), School of Medicine, University of Minho , Braga, Portugal
                [2 ]ICVS/3B’s, PT Government Associate Laboratory , Braga/Guimarães, Portugal
                [3 ]Respiratory Department, H. Sª Oliveira , Guimarães, Portugal
                [4 ]Department of Pneumology, Centro Hospitalar de S. João , Porto, Portugal
                [5 ]Faculty of Medicine (FMUP), University of Porto , Porto, Portugal
                [6 ]Horizonte Family Health Unit , Matosinhos, Portugal
                Author notes
                Correspondence: A Duarte-de-AraújoLife and Health Sciences Research Institute (ICVS), School of Medicine, University of Minho , Campus de Gualtar, 4710-057, Braga, PortugalEmail duartearaujodr@
                © 2019 Duarte-de-Araújo 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: 2, Tables: 5, References: 28, Pages: 9
                Original Research

                Respiratory medicine

                copd; inhalation technique; inhaler devices


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