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Guideline-defined asthma control: a challenge for primary care

M.L. Levy*
Eur Respir J 2008; 31: 229–231

Primary care health professionals are faced with many challenges, not least of which are related to the complexities involved in diagnosing, investigating and managing asthma patients. This is further complicated by the fact that general practitioners (GPs), in their daily routine, are faced with patients presenting with hundreds of different types of medical, social and general problems, as opposed to specialist colleagues who deal with a relatively limited number of medical conditions. A typical consultation in general practice involves identifying the patient’s presenting problem, hypothesising possible aetiologies, examination, performing and arranging investigations, decisions on further management, addressing preventative medical issues (such as immunisations, cervical cytology and advice on lifestyle) and sometimes referral for specialist advice or care, all within time slots of 6–12 mins. It is therefore not surprising, though still shocking, that asthma diagnosis, reduction of symptoms through treatment and management of severely ill patients, who subsequently die from asthma [1], have been and continue to be major challenges for those working in primary care.

*University of Edinburgh, Division of Community Health Sciences: GP Section, UK

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