How spacers prove mysterious to patients

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Campaign Survey

In November 2018, the ASI launched two spacer surveys, one for the general public and one for healthcare professionals. The general survey contained a number of questions that aimed to find out more about peoples’ opinions on spacers, including who they believed should use them, what they actually do and about how they would feel using a spacer in public. The healthcare professional survey aimed to find out more about healthcare professionals’ opinions on spacers and how frequently they recommend and demonstrate them in their professional work.

Survey Findings and Analysis (general public)

The general public survey (completed by 2,318 people) findings include:

Spacer usage

41% of people with asthma do not use their spacer device regularly – meaning they are not getting the most from their asthma medication, they are putting themselves at risk of the side effects of using an inhaler alone, and they are wasting medication and money.

Public’s perception of spacers

One in five people surveyed believe spacer devices are for children only. A huge problem contributing to the underuse of spacers is that many people believe that spacer devices are for children only. This perception of spacers needs to change and healthcare professionals need to explain to all their patients they should be using a spacer every time they use their asthma medication.

61% of people with asthma said they would not use a spacer device to combat the symptoms of an asthma attack. Using a spacer device with asthma medication has been proven to more effectively elevate asthma symptoms than using an inhaler device on its own. Healthcare professionals need to recommend to their patients to use spacer device in the event of an asthma attack.

Public’s response to their healthcare professional and spacers

38% of people with asthma surveyed said their healthcare professional has not recommended using a spacer device. All healthcare professionals should be recommending spacers and demonstrating their correct usage. Three out of five healthcare professionals recommending/demonstrating spacers is not good enough to materially improve patient health outcomes.

Children and spacers

82% of parents surveyed whose children have asthma said their child always uses their spacer device when using their inhaler medication. Parents in general are quite good at ensuring their children are using their spacer device. However, 9% of people said their child does not use a spacer device. Every child who use an inhaler device should be using a spacer. It is not acceptable for children to use their inhaler device without using their spacer.

However, although 82% of adults claimed their child always uses a spacer device, running contrary to that is the figure of 37% of people who have a child with asthma say their child does not have access to a spacer device in school. Children in school should have access to their spacer device at all times. Although most parents believe their child has access to their spacer device at all times, they are failing to realise that their child does not have access to their spacer when they are at school.